A Huge Success For Big Boyz Ball

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - August 25, 2005
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These junior high school players are
as big as coach Doc Taula

Nu‘u Lolotai knows football. It’s in his blood. His father, Al Lolotai, was the first player of Samoan descent in the National Football League as an offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins in 1945.

“Father Bray came over to the (North Shore) and recruited him to Iolani,” Nu‘u says. “Then he went to Weber State and played with Slingin’ Sammy Baugh for the Redskins.”

Nu‘u followed in his father’s footsteps and played tight end for Pac-Five and later for the University of Utah. The Lolotai tradition continues to this day with Nu‘u’s son, Mana, an allstar linebacker at Kamehameha. As one of the top high school seniors in the state, Mana is already receiving recruiting letters from big-time college football programs all over the country.

Amazingly, the youngest Lolotai almost didn’t get a chance to play as a youngster. “He had to lose 20 pounds to play in the (youth football league),” his dad remembers.

“Like many Hawaiian and other Polynesian kids, they practically have to starve (to make weight).”

The top weight limit for the prestigious Pop Warner football program, for example, is 145 pounds for pre-high school age players. “I’ve always thought it strange, unfair really, that a program’s guidelines restrict many of our Hawaiian and Polynesian youth from participating,” Nu‘u says.

(The rule is there for safety reasons, proponents of the weight limits say. Few can argue the fact that a 250-pound boy tackling a 120-pound boy might cause injury.)

About three or four years ago, Lolotai and some of his friends in the Hau‘ula/Lai‘e/Kahuku area set out to do something about this perceived injustice. They started Hawaii Big Boyz Football.

They began with oversized boys between the ages of 9 and 13 — boys who couldn’t make youth football league weight limits. The boys were thrilled at the opportunity to play football on a team and began practicing several days a week at Lai‘e Park.

“One of our 12-year-olds is over 250 pounds. We have an 11-year-old over 230 pounds,” Nu‘u says. “We started with flag football, but we went to pads the next year because the boys wanted to tackle.”

The program has been such a huge success (no pun intended here) that the league is expanding to other parts of Oahu. Waianae and Waipahu heard about the success and will start their own teams this year.

“Our first game (between Waianae and the original Big Boyz from Lai‘e) is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17 in Kahuku,” he says. “We’re hoping to get more communities interested to start their own teams. You don’t have to be Polynesian. We’re trying to help big kids anywhere, whatever their ethnicity.”

Big Boyz Football helps in more ways than just on the field. Academics and nutrition are the program’s other top priorities. “We hope to use football to motivate the kids in the classroom,” Nu‘u says.

They also tackle eating habits.

“We try to identify the kids who are overweight versus the ones who are (large due to) genetics,” he says. Through his work at the Hau‘ula Health Center, Nu‘u has learned a great deal about healthier lifestyles. “We have kids showing adult numbers for diabetes and high blood pressure. We try to help them by monitoring their diets.”

For more information on how you can get your own big boy involved, contact Nu‘u Lolotai at 741-7642.

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