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Lifestyle // Island Matters
Mufi Hannemann

Cousins Accepted To Rival Academies

Military academies are viewed as some of the most prestigious institutions around, so you can imagine what scholar-athletes Toese Gaoteote Tia and Adam Tagovailoa Amosa of Campbell High School were thinking when they opened their college acceptance letters.

The Saber graduates are about to follow in the footsteps of two United States presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter. Tia is New York-bound to President Eisenhower’s alma matter, U.S. Military Academy at West Point (USMA). Amosa is headed for U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Maryland, where President Carter matriculated.

“When I received my letter from West Point, I couldn’t have felt more blessed that I was accepted,” says Tia, with great humility. “Many people came to mind, but three things really stood out. They were my family, loved ones and educators who have supported me throughout my high school years. I am grateful to an awesome God whom I serve.”

Amosa dittos the euphoria felt by his cousin. He also was accepted to West Point, but opted to say yes to the Naval Academy.

“It was more than just the full-ride scholarship that USNA offered me. After carefully reviewing all my college options, I felt more at home with coach Ken Niumatalolo,” says Amosa. He considers Niumatalolo a role model because he is the first person of Polynesian ancestry to be named head coach of a Division I football program. Niumatalolo recently was inducted into the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.

Tia and Amosa, 18 and 17 respectively, share strong athletic genes, and their roots stem back to a village called Vatia in American Samoa. The young men’s great-great-grandfathers were brothers, and their grandmothers also were best buddies at Radford High School. They are as charming and vivacious as their grandmas, and are physically strong like their grandfathers.

Leadership flows through their veins. Tia’s grandfather, the Honorable Palaie Gaoteote, is the president of the Senate of the Fono in the U.S. Territory. He is an Army veteran and the first Samoan to ever become a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army. Amosa’s uncle, Amosa Amosa, is the highly popular head football coach of the Sabers, who enjoyed their most successful season ever by finishing fourth in the Division I state playoffs. Adam Amosa’s parents are the founders and driving force behind the Ewa Beach Sabers, one of the best youth football programs in the state. The two strapping, handsome athletes were big men on campus at Campbell, but they say they look forward to being small fish in a big pond in two of the nation’s most elite service academies.

Tia is the son of Toese Sr. and Mineretta Tia of Ewa Beach. He graduated cum laude and is a decorated football player. Accolades include varsity football team captain, Campbell’s Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman, Oahu Interscholastic Association All-Star first team, HUB Goodwill Senior Bowl Defensive Lineman and Samoa Bowl Team member.

“I believe I was chosen to go to West Point because of my work ethic and dedication to my schooling,” states Tia. “It also helped that I was an honors graduate. My extracurricular activities, such as football and wrestling, helped, as I set a goal that for every football game and every match I needed to be all that I can be.” Active in his church, he will enroll in the engineering program at West Point but aspires to be like his father, Command Sgt. Maj. Tia. “He is a prime example of what it means to truly persevere. Dad has fought through many hardships and negative influences in his life. I have seen him achieve great things. He motivates me to never stop believing, and teaches me that hard work will always lead to success.”

Amosa is the son of Tuli and Saipati Amosa of Ewa Beach. He is described as the “best technician of the entire offensive line crop in 2014.” He is light on his feet and is fast as lightning, but he also excels in tickling ivories.

“I practiced a lot of football, but I also spent many hours playing the piano. It’s a way for me to get away from the pressures and stresses of life. I also spend quality time with my church activities,” says Amosa. Athletic and scholastic awards he raked in include first team All-State Offensive Lineman, OIA All-Star Football Team, Saber’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Volleyball Honorable Mention All-Star, Honor Roll eight times and three times on the Principal’s List.

Amosa says, “I believe I was chosen for the Naval Academy based on my academic standing and success on the gridiron. I also have taken numerous honors as well as AP classes, and managed an A average in all of my classes.” Among the six AP courses he took, the subjects varied from calculus and language to world history and government. Amosa sees himself engaged in government and international affairs 10 years from now, after majoring in political science.

“My grandparents are the most influential people in my life,” he says. “Not only have they fed me physically, but they also have fed me spiritually. They also have been my No. 1 fans, attending and encouraging me at every one of my games.”

The Tia and Amosa families always have cheered for their favorite sons sitting on the same side of the bleachers wherever Campbell High played.

But when the Midshipmen and Black Knights battle it out in college football this upcoming season, the rivalry between cousins, classmates and team-mates may just test the theory that “blood is thicker than water.”

All of us in all Hawaii win by having two of our finest “home-boys” competing athletically, studying diligently and preparing to serve our country in the finest tradition.

mufi@mufihannemann.com

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