Why We Play

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Q&A: Nicholas Aumua 

INTERVIEW:

 Nicholas (Nick) Aumua, 20, Was born in California before moving to Washington state where he and his family lives in Auburn. Nick is of Samoan decent and a student athlete at Central Washington University, where he is working to earn his undergraduate degree in film and video studies. A standout athlete at Auburn high school, he quickly became the starting defensive tackle for the wildcat’s football team during his sophomore year. Nick represents a community of Polynesians who have dominated the sport of football and continue to represent their traditions and culture through an American-made sport. After graduating, he plans on pursuing a career in film and video studies.

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WERE BETTER THAN MOST AT FOOTBALL?

I started realizing my potential during my years in middle school. At the time my performance was obviously better than those around me and my size added to that.

WHAT ARE SOME OF SAMOA’S CULTURAL VALUES?

 The main value’s in my culture are God first, family, and then respect.

DO YOU THINK ANY OF THESE VALUES TRANSLATES TO THE GAME OF FOOTBALL?

 I think they do. Spiritually I need God and that’s where my strength comes from. Respect comes a long way; just treating everyone with respect, that means a lot. Coaches and players and even off the field. Family, that’s a big one too. Brotherhood is a theme in football and we take that seriously. We believe that if we have that bond, that’s what makes the difference and it just so happens that it comes naturally for me.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING A STUDENT ATHLETE?

 One of the hardest things is being on your own. I feel like that is a big part. Just growing up and learning how to be an adult and a student athlete. Another thing is money because not a lot of us have a lot of money and we have to stretch it out week to week. We try to make things last. For Polynesians it’s hard leaving home and going to college because we grow up so tight with our family, brothers and sisters and when we get a scholarship and it’s time to go, it’s one of the hardest things to leave your family. But at the same time it’s also a blessing to get a scholarship and do what you love at the next level.

WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT LEAVING HOME?

 Not seeing my parents a lot, my sisters, my girl…home cooked meals (chuckles). Not being around my church.

 IF ANY, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STEREOTYPES THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED ON CAMPUS?

 One of the stereotypes I’ve experienced on campus is mostly about my size. Automatically being an athlete just the way my frame is. It’s for sure in the back of their minds (other students) that “the way he looks”, Is like an athlete and nothing else because the way I look and the way I dress. I think that “athlete” sticks with me and that’s what people think. I feel like that’s the same with a lot of Polynesians on college campuses. We all look like athletes and people assume we are and that’s not true for everyone.

WHAT DOES YOUR EVERYDAY SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE DURING FOOTBALL SEASON?

 I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and get ready. Practice is from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Then I have class from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. From 2 p.m. to 3:45 I have film and then I am in required study hall until 6 p.m.

IF YOU COULD GIVE OTHER POLYNESIAN ATHLETES ADVICE, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?

 It would be a question to them saying, “Why are you here. What brought you to college and who do you do it for?” If you ask that question in your mind and you have an answer to it, that should be motivation for you to be the best you can be.

 

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