Sep 15, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Christian Kelii-Kama and Joseph Pelesasa are freshmen football players at St . Augustine's University in Raleigh. Given their backgrounds, it is no surprise they had a little culture shock when they arrived on campus this summer
"Everything. Everything is the biggest change,” said offensive lineman Kelii-Kama. “Culture-wise, temperature-wise, almost everything."
Keli-Kama and Pelesasa came to North Carolina from Hawaii – roughly 4,700 miles. That is quite the distance to travel to play college football.
"They showed us they were very interested in coming to the mainland,” head football coach Michael Costa said. “They were good football players."
Hawaii isn't exactly in the recruiting budget for St. Aug, so the coaches used some creativity to get out to the island and find some talent.
"Our basketball team was playing in Hawaii and a few of our administrators couldn't attend,” Costa said. “Our president (Dr. Dianne Suber ) decided we could do some recruiting."
So the coaches visited every school they could and found two guys who would agree to take a on a small school thousands of miles from home.
"I gave my life into the coach's hands,” Pelesasa said. “He said he was going to take care of me. School has been great. I thank them for that. I thank the Lord."
And now the two Hawaiins are sharing some culture with their teammates.
"Manah...It means power.” Pelesasa, a linebacker, said. “Hawain power. Also swag. The island feeling."
"Over there, they are very disciplined about what they do,” Costa said. “They were coached old-school. Not a lot of nonsense."
The two freshmen are quickly becoming leaders for the Falcon team. Their only complaint so far? North Carolina is too humid.