My Tokouas

December 2, 2011
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I remember feeling the blistering heat of the sun of those late afternoon practices when I could have been hanging out with girls downtown. I could have been selfish and just not showed up to practice, but my teammates all relied on me to get better so that I could perform my best in games. I remember making this group of men my priority putting my own concerns behind. I dedicated all my time to this team, we were a band of brothers all bonded together and were seen as the kings of the school. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that only those who could rise above their own selfish concerns and care about people other than themselves could they finally find their true happiness. I support this idea because I experienced this happiness through what my football team and I underwent for four long years in high school.

I remember my freshman year meeting these guys during summer practice out of middle school. There were a lot of us and we all looked like little twigs compared to the bulky varsity team. I remember coach yelling “you’re all going to work your asses off if you want to be part of this championship tradition!” For days straight these men and I were a working machine: eating, breathing, sleeping football. It was a full time job for us always having to study the playbook, lift weights, run or do some type of team bonding. Like every other person, there were times when I felt like all the work was too much and that it would be best to quit. But my teammates would convince me to stay, and if they had ever felt like giving up I would be there for them to make sure they stayed. Going through all that hard work through the years were meant to pay off for us our senior year. And by then, we had become a bonded unit because we made the team our priority instead of ourselves.

The first day of full contact practice of my senior year was hell. The heat was intense, the running was harsh and the hitting was agonizing. Things even started getting emotional when my friend Sioeli put my other friend Edgar on his back and started slapping his helmet around. Edgar got mad and pushed Sioeli off him and they started to shove each other for a bit. The whole practice emotions ran high, and I saw how people reacted under pressure and stress. When it was time for the first team offense versus scout defense, my legs began to jitter as I lined up with the rest of the starting players. Our whole line looked like a big, tough, ripped, bulky, aggressive group. I however was the “stump” of the line because of how short I was but I never let my size discourage me. My teammates would always give me confidence saying the right words I needed for inspiration when I felt discouraged from seeing the person I was up against on film. They were euphoria for me. I felt like I belonged with them, like they were a group of people I could trust with my life; I loved that feeling.

Other than the reward of feeling a sense of unity and trust with my teammates, putting our hearts and effort for each other let us win a lot of great games. Our season opener was one of those games that we would remember forever. It was one of those “Friday Night Lights” type of games and the enormous crowd’s cheers could be heard throughout the whole neighborhood. I remember seeing some parts of the bleachers shaking from all the people there. It was an hour ride to get to San Jose and everyone was ready to play. It was night time and the air was wet and brisk. The first play of the game I completely devastated ho I was up against and my friend Sam was able to make an easy big run as he followed me. We were physically dominating Lincoln High School all game long, running the ball down their throat. I saw how much they feared us, I know they had given up inside and did not want any more beatings from us. I could see their legs trembling after they broke the huddle, they were emotionally broken because we had been prepared and ready from all our hard work and dedication. The feeling I felt was unexplainable because our dominance made us feel like alpha males and it felt amazing.

Lincoln however was only the second best game I ever had. The first game was against Hillsdale, our rivals. For years Aragon had been beating Hillsdale and our year was going to be the 20th yearin a row we beat them. However, this year they were very good and ready to break that streak. It was the end of the half and my stomach was heavy from worry because we were down by a touchdown. I was already battered down, cut up, and hurting everywhere. Because of the aches I had I was going easy on some plays before the half was over. I suddenly realized I was being selfish by taking those crucial plays off. So when it was the first play after halftime, I hit people as hard as I could so that my teammates could run better and get more yards. I remember I felt like I almost died after I hit someone so hard to get the two extra points (after our tying touchdown) to be up by one. The game felt like an eternity and the last play for Hillsdale would determine the fate of the game. They kicked a field goal on the 34 yard line with fourteen seconds left, and missed. Everything after that was a blur because our whole team was crying in happiness and celebrating once the crowd bum rushed the field. I can’t even explain how I felt; everything was in slow motion and felt like it ended instantly.

Tokoua means brother in Tongan. Our football team was composed mostly of Tongans, who are big Pacific Islander people. These men I played football with were my tokouas. We went through everything together, making sure that no one ever gave us less than their full effort. We were a group of men that put the team before ourselves and worked as hard as we could. In the end, all the commitment paid off and we had the time of our lives. We made a pact that would hold memories we would cherish forever, which in my eyes I believe would be one of the best times in my life.

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