HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Kia going from Trojans to Bruins
Fast-forward to 2010.
UCLA has won its first national championship in ages, knocking out cross-town archrival USC in the Fiesta Bowl.
In the offseason, defensive end and student film director Dylan Rush navigates his crew around a scene at the beach. His star, Micah Kia, plunges into the water, on the run from covert agents in an espionage plot.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Kia, a swimmer in his younger days, is a fish in the water, covering 100 yards in seconds to make a getaway. The scene is complete. Kia gets out of the water, greeted by his director, the same man he had literally butted heads with at football practice for four years.
Far fetched? Not really.
Since making a verbal commitment on Monday to play football for UCLA, Kia has joined Rush as the Bruins' second recruit from Hawaii. Rush, a 6-3, 225-pound defensive end from Konawaena, visited the UCLA campus along with Kia a few weeks ago. Rush, who plans to major in film, committed to UCLA last summer and spent a good portion of his visit encouraging Kia to do the same.
Eventually, Kia did, and he is as content as ever.
"Oh yeah, I'd do a movie with Dylan. But what's my role?" asked Kia, a scholar-athlete who knows exactly what his next role will be with the Bruins.
The Mililani lineman was quiet from the start of preseason, preferring solitude rather than a media circus that could certainly have erupted.
"The process was hard on him and he kept it to himself," Mililani coach James Millwood said. "He didn't let outside people affect his decision. I'm glad he went out and visited all the schools. I'm happy for him. He's worked hard to get where he's at. I think UCLA is getting a great football player with great character."
No other recruit in Hawaii drew as much attention as Kia, who had more than two dozen scholarship offers, even after suffering a broken right tibia early in the season.
The offers came from Hawaii, UCLA, Boise State, Washington, New Mexico State, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal, San Diego State and more.
He wound up visiting UCLA, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Oregon State since the season ended. Kia, whose older brother Aaron is a lineman at Hawaii, went about it all in an orderly manner. He made sacrifices, too.
After trying out for the Mililani basketball team for the first time, Kia went on his football trips. Though he impressed coach Hiram Akina with his strength, rebounding and a smooth 3-point shot, Kia left the team.
"I missed too much practice time," he said.
Kia may have been a bit drained by the traveling and analysis of picking between outstanding schools.
"It was hard to choose between all of them," he said. "How can you top all of these schools?"
One factor was UCLA's location.
"It's a great area surrounding the school. Honestly, I hate the city. Westwood is nice. I made some good relationships," he said of Bruins head coach Karl Dorrell and assistant coach Dino Babers, the former Hawaii linebacker. "It was easy to talk with him."
Academics is another huge factor.
"My mom home-schooled me, so it's all about education," said Kia, who is interested in sports medicine.
His mother, Wally, hails from Southern California.
"Her family lives there, but a few of them are USC fans," said Kia, who wasn't offered a scholarship by the Trojans.
Kia's father, Malcolm, was ready to let go, if necessary.
"He said, in a roundabout way, 'Go with your heart,' " Kia said.
Aaron had more simple, solid advice.
"My brother said, 'Make sure everything is what they say it is,' " Kia recalled.
Now, he will suit up in the baby blue and gold of the Bruins, a team that had its best season in years.
At Mililani, Kia stayed at one position, on one side of the line. The scheme is different at UCLA.
"They go strong side, weak side, and they want me to be on the strong side," he said.
It will be a while before Kia will be in any student films, but by then, his feet will be on firm ground in Westwood.
"It's kind of an unbelievable situation," Kia said. "Four years ago, I never thought of being in this position."