Jordan Tufaga: Rushing to the line-up

When you aren’t heavily recruited, that feeling on your shoulder is more like a chip, pushing you to prove that you are just as good–or better.

For running back Jordan Tufaga, a preferred walk-on for CWU during his freshman year, this feeling is all too familiar.

Tufaga’s football journey began in the 2nd grade and he hasn’t missed a season since.

Unsure, but inspired by his father and brother who both played the game, Tufaga decided he’d give football a shot and it wasn’t long before his natural talent emerged.

“My second year playing there was an onside-kick that I picked up and scored,” Tufaga said. “that’s when my coach asked if I wanted to play running back and I said no.”

Eventually, Tufaga’s father, a person he attributes much of his success to, encouraged him to play the position.

“[My dad] said ‘just try it,’ so I did.”

Little did they know, that decision to play running back would ultimately give way to the opportunity to play college football.

Not very many scouts visit Alaska to recruit football players, but a football camp held by Tufaga’s high school coach also happened to be a camp that Ian Shoemaker, CWU football’s head Coach, has participated in for the last three summers.

“While I was up there I got a chance to meet Jordan and his father,” Shoemaker said. “Jordan was coming out at that time and it was a great opportunity for us to add a guy I thought was pretty athletic and did some good things.”

Although there was interest in Jordan’s abilities, his battle was far from over. Jordan would be offered an opportunity as a preferred walk-on and would have to earn his spot and scholarship.

“You can kind of tell who’s on scholarship and the guys who aren’t,” Tufaga said. “At first you feel like just a guy on the practice squad. I kind of felt out of place, but I knew I was good enough to be on the team.”

Along with fighting to see the field, Tufaga is also balancing school and—like many Polynesian athletes—getting used to life away from his main support system: his family.

“It’s hard not being able to actually see my family,” Tufaga said. “But I know this is what my dad would want me to do and my family is proud of me for doing this. It’s about representing the family.”

And that’s exactly what Tufaga did.

After his first year as a walk-on, the coaching staff at CWU decided during the offseason that he had earned himself a partial scholarship.

“He was named one of the top offensive scouts,” Shoemaker said. “It goes into academics, weight lifting and all the things that we ask our guys to do and he showed us that he’s able to do that.”

In a year’s time, Tufaga went from working for a spot to making impressive plays on game days.

With 429 all-purpose yards, a blocked punt against Azusa Pacific University and two touchdowns on the season, Tufaga is lucky his dad encouraged him to play running back at a young age.

As the accolades and stats continue to pile up for Tufaga, he acknowledges the journey and wants other Polynesian athletes to know that nothing comes easy.

“You need perseverance. Nothing comes easy,” Tufaga said. “You can be athletically gifted like many Polynesian kids are, but there’s books, community involvement and many other things. Many of you will have to leave your families, so just be prepared to push through it.”

Polynesians are Taking Over Sports and Entertainment

Although 2016 has been labeled by many as the worse year of this 17 year long century, the last year allowed for many Polynesians to excel in their respective crafts.

From dominating on the football field as usual to sweeping through the most acclaimed awards in Hollywood, it was quite the year for Polynesia. Here are some praiseworthy moments:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson claims his stake as the worlds highest paid actor raking in $64.5 million (Forbes).
HBO Ballers Season 2 Red Carpet Premiere and Reception in Miami

We all have our favorite rocky lines and have at least once in our life shouted the words “if you smeeeeeellllll!? well, you know the rest, but this year has to be his most impressive.

Along with releasing the number one comedy of the year alongside Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, The Rock has had a busy year shooting the HBO series “Ballers,” and the now famous animation “Moana.”

He also has been working on films such as Baywatch, Fast 8 and Jumanji. Can you smell that?

At age 16, Destanee Aiava competes in the Australian Open.

Image result for destanee aiava

Although she lost her first Grand Slam match on Monday, Jan. 16th, she has been climbing the ranks quickly and her name has already begun to gain traction.

This week she got to hit with her long life idol Serena Williams, and has continued to play with elite company.

Watch for Destanee, the only player who was born in this century to play in a grand slam tournament, to continue to get better and rack up more wins against elite competition.

Reggae artist J Boog and Hawaiian Contemporary artist Kalani Pe’a invited to the Grammy’s.

kalani-pea-and-j-boog

Some of you remember the beginnings of J Boog’s career with songs like “Love Seasons,” and “lets do it again.” Others have only recently picked up his music.

At first it seemed as if underground reggae would be his only outlet, but he continued to gain popularity by releasing hit after hit.

This year he is nominated for Reggae Album of the year with his latest EP – “Rose Petals,” a prestigious award that puts him with the likes of Ziggy and Damian Marley, Shaggy, Sean Paul and other popular mainstream reggae artists.

Kalani Pe’a however, was nominated for best folk album with his debut album “E Walea.”

This category was added in 2011 and is award that acknowledges the best folk music from various cultures.

If Kalani, a Hawaii native who speaks Hawaiian fluently wins this award, he would be the first Hawaiian, or Polynesian for that matter, to receive this honor.

Moana makes headlines with Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

Image result for Moana

Polynesians all over the world got to experience something they never have: Seeing a reflection of themselves on the big screen.

Although there were some inaccuracies pointed out and an outburst in the Polynesian communities about where Moana is actually from (it’s okay guys she’s just a cartoon), for the most part this animation was received with love and admiration.

This heroine allowed our Polynesian sons and daughters to vicariously live through these animated characters while giving the world around us a taste of Polynesia.

Moana was nominated for two Golden Globes including best original song and best animation (which they didn’t win), but still has a chance to claim the Oscar for best animated feature in February.

This is just the beginning.

There are many other notable performances with many Polynesian’s like Danny Shelton, Marcus Mariota and Steven Adams excelling in professional sports and Jason Momoa coming in the much anticipated “Justice league” as “Aquaman.”

The truth is, our talents are everywhere and have penetrated the very core of mainstream media with fresh style, culture and flavor.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of all is how small we are in numbers.

We come from tiny places scattered throughout the South Pacific yet our talents and aspirations are as big as the ocean that surrounds us. That’s what makes us amazing. That’s what makes us Polynesian.

What/who else is missing from this list? Let Me know!

Sources:

Robehmed, N. (2016, August 25). The World’s Highest-Paid Actors 2016: The Rock Leads With Knockout $64.5 Million Year. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2016/08/25/the-worlds-highest-paid-actors-2016-the-rock-leads-with-knockout-64-5-million-year/#15e7ea2145da

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2017/01/92-minutes-on-court-lifetime-of-experience-for-destanee/63363/

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-grammys-2017-nominations-winners-list-20161205-story.html

https://ohmy.disney.com/news/2016/12/12/moana-and-zootopia-nominated-for-golden-globe-awards-see-filmmakers-reactions/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.