Maximum Exposure For Island Athletes
By now, virtually every local football fan knows the story of how Marcus Mariota got his college football scholarship, about how he attended a gridiron camp at University of Oregon between his junior and senior season in high school, and about how he was “discovered” by the Ducks coaching staff before he ever started a game for the Saint Louis Crusaders.
Mariota’s legacy, along with the success stories of other Island football stars in recent years, has led to an influx of big-time college coaches to take part in this week’s Grand Performance Academy (GPA) Football Maximum Exposure Camp at University of Hawaii’s athletic field. The camp is set for June 5-7.
At least 60 coaches — from the likes of Oregon (head coach Marl Helfrich will be there), Oregon State, Colorado, Arizona, ASU, Washington, WSU, Cal, USC, Hawaii, BYU, Azusa Pacific and Western New Mexico, plus other DIIs, junior colleges and NAIA schools — will descend on Manoa to work with and check out 400 high school football stars and those who are waiting to be “discovered.”
“Some of the schools are sending four to five coaches; some are sending practically their entire coaching staff — they’re that excited to come here,” says Doris Sullivan, executive director of Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance (PIAA), who helps out GPA Football owners Rich Miano and Chad Ikei with the second year of the camp.
The camp was started a year ago to give island players a chance to show off their stuff without paying for expensive trips to the Mainland. It’s open to players entering ninth through 12th grades, plus, as a bonus opportunity, according to Sullivan,
“Junior college coaches have a chance to check out recently graduated seniors who may not yet have hooked up with a fouryear school, for whatever reason,” she adds.
The response this year has been off the charts. “We’ve not only got players from all over Hawaii (as well as American Samoa and Guam), but players are registering from the Mainland, too,” she says. “It’s unbelievable, really.”
She encourages teenagers who aspire to play college football to make sure they sign up if they haven’t done so already. Last-minute registration information is available online at gpafootball.com or piaahawaii. com. Sullivan also is available at 226-7077, while Miano can be reached at 224-0911.
“Last year, we had about 300 players, but only a field-and-ahalf to work with them. This year, we’ve got three fields, so that will really help coaches work with players in plenty of space,” she says.
“It’s a great chance for coaches and players to see each other up close. The coaches are here to work the camp, not just observe.”
A year ago, as many as 30 players seen at the camp ultimately received some type of college football offer — whether that was at DI, DII, NAIA or junior college.
“A lot of people may think the coaches only come to see the big names you read about all the time, but that’s not the case,” Sullivan says. “These coaches really want to see the other players. Last year, coaches told us there was much better talent here than they expected.”
With the exposure that the state of Hawaii received when Mariota was drafted as the second overall NFL pick by the Tennessee Titans, this is a great chance for up-and-coming football players to create their own story of “discovery.”