Star-Bulletin Sports


Vitale could suit up
for Islanders this week

Star-Bulletin staff

Hawaii ultimate fighter Niko Vitale is practicing with the Hawaiian Islanders, and he could be in a uniform for their arenafootball2 game at Fresno on Saturday.

"Niko came out to practice (Tuesday)," Islanders coach Chad Carlson said. "He's working out as a receiver and a defensive back. He's all business and he will be a big addition to our team."

Vitale, who has developed a reputation as a hard hitter, helped lead the Hawaii Hammerheads to the Indoor Professional Football League championship in 1999.

"Because he's one of the state's top ultimate fighters, he's in the best physical shape out of anyone, and he's taking it very seriously," Carlson said. "And he stood out right away on both sides of the ball. He caught the balls that were thrown to him, and he deflected some balls that were thrown his way."

Vitale played for the University of Hawaii under Bob Wagner in the mid-1990s, but he was cut in 1996 -- Fred vonAppen's first year as head coach.

Carlson said Vitale is trying to adjust his work schedule in order to make the trip to Fresno this week and so he can make future practices and games.

"If his work schedule permits, he'll be with us," the coach said.

"We are trying to have the best guys on the island. Our guys are good now, but we're not afraid to change to make the team better. You can never have enough guys in the pipeline to have better competition, better professionalism and a better record."

The Islanders (1-6) meet the division rival Frenzy (2-5) on Saturday at Selland Arena in Fresno at 4:30 p.m. Hawaii time.

Hawaiian Islanders

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