New feeling of ohana
drives Pearl City football

Students charge into Homecoming

By Seth Ching
Pearl City High School

Unbelievable but true: The Pearl City Chargers are tied for first atop the OIA White Conference with a 4-1 record. No follower of Charger football would ever have predicted such a position for this football team, which historically has not been known for winning. So what's happening?

"My kids finally came to the realization that they belong to a family," explains Pearl City head coach Onosai Tanuvasa. His "kids," the members of the varsity football team, are "incorporated into a family, where they get a feeling of belonging to something. This is the difference."

In a family, Tanuvasa explains, everyone is treated with "respect, like a human being." At each practice, Tanuvasa tries to talk to each of his "kids." No matter whether a player is first-string or hardly plays, he always tries to find out how each player is doing in school and on the field, working to keep the lines of communication open.

Like a parent, Tanuvasa nurtures each player. He doesn't teach the team how to "win." Instead, he teaches the players how to give 110 percent of themselves.

"If you teach the kids just to win and fall short of winning, then the morale goes down and the emotions are devastating," he says. "I teach them to go out of their comfort zone and push beyond what they're comfortable with. I tell my players if you are tired and cannot move, that's not 110 percent, that's just near the uncomfortable zone. I tell the kids, 'I want you to push beyond the comfort zone.' That's the 110 percent."

On the field, there is no swearing or yelling to be heard from coaches or players. At the start of the season, Tanuvasa released some players because they showed disrespect by swearing at the coaches.

"Everything is directed at humility," he says.

After every game, before walking off the field, the players group together, face the bleachers and sing the alma mater, followed by a resounding "thank you" to the crowd and their parents. Tanuvasa himself demonstrates his own form of humility. He and the other coaches even take home the team's jerseys and towels to launder.

The players seemed to have learned their coach's messages well. Senior Ricky Shinn, a defensive back, explained: "The coaches have us believing that we can do anything. He taught us to set our goals for the stars, and even if we fall short, we still end up on the moon."

Junior Preston Chesnutt, a defensive end, added: "(Tanuvasa) makes us work hard. He's very intense. We never know what's going to happen next. He keeps us on our toes."

A feeling of belonging to a family, mutual respect, and humility seem to be the mixture that's starting a new revival of pride in Charger football. After all, says Tanuvasa, "Good kids come from good families."

Chargers on top? Believable, and true.

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --