Run to daylight


POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Harry Tuimaseve is running.

A kid growing up in Kuhio Park Terrace public housing has to run. In KPT, sometimes you run away from someone, sometimes you run with them, and sometimes you run away from the flashing blue light of a patrol car.

In Harry's case, he runs at people. And he's very good when he does it.

Tuimaseve, a 5-foot-10 senior fullback at Farrington High School, is running away from KPT, but he does it Friday nights on a 100-yard grass football field. This past season, he averaged 5.9 yards on 304 carries for 1,787 yards. He has one more game to go, Saturday's Aloha Prep Bowl doubleheader, where he'll keep running for the East team in the Senior Bowl, at Aloha Stadium beginning at 4 p.m.

“;I'm excited and honored to be able to play in this game,”; Tuimaseve said. “;I can't wait to meet and work with the other players from the other schools, get along and play together. Hopefully, we'll get a victory over the West side. I'm really looking forward to it.”;

When you talk about a kid growing up in public housing, the conversation often centers on crime, poverty and dead ends. But good people adapt and find a way out. And Tuimaseve knows his way out of KPT is on his feet.





        Harry Tuimaseve, Farrington






“;People are always telling me I need to do well, get my family out of here, and do something for myself”; he said. “;Going on to college is my ticket out of there, I just need to do good and keep my grades up.”;

Farrington head coach Randall Okimoto thinks his star running back has what it takes to play at the next level. Tuimaseve's athletic ability is a given, certainly enough to be a team leader. But his dedication to academics and personal character were enough to award Tuimaseve team captain status.

“;Harry works very hard, but he's humble, a true leader, and I've never had a complaint from one of his teachers,”; Okimoto said. “;He's a great role model for the other students, and that's why we named him captain.”;

Okimoto thinks he has the right stuff to succeed as a college student and athlete. The coach cites the season statistics and notes that Farrington played one fewer game due to an early-season cancellation against Word of Life.

The coach acknowledges that “;it's a rough time at KPT,”; but he doesn't use that as an excuse. Okimoto estimates 50 percent of the school is at some level of poverty, saying “;it's tough for a lot of these kids.”; Not exactly the ideal environment for success, but, on the other hand, maybe a good recipe.

“;If you can survive the mean streets of Kalihi and carry the football the way he does, and keep up the grades, then I think you're ready to go on to college,”; said Okimoto, himself a Farrington graduate who went on to play football at the University fo Hawaii.

Several schools have already shown interest, including UH, Washington State and Utah. Tuimaseve's preference? “;I want to play for a team that likes to run the ball. Weber State contacted me a few days ago. JC isn't an option; I want to go to a four-year school.”;

Tuimaseve is already experiencing the difficult balance that a collegiate student-athlete must sustain. Two weeks ago he ran for 185 yards against the heralded Kahuku defense in Farrington's semifinal loss at the HHSAA Division I State Football Championships. The following week he took his SAT exams. Saturday he takes his ACT tests in the morning and plays in the Prep Bowl that afternoon.

Tuimaseve isn't doing it alone. He says his parents stay on him to keep up with his academics. His family and friends come to the house for a little barbecue and get him pumped up before games.

“;I hang around with my friends like Vaughn (Tomas, Farrington safety) and Alvin (Faamausili, defensive back).

“;We all pretty much know right from wrong and watch out for each other.”;