Off-season Conditioning Helping Leilehua’s Shai Pulawa

Leilehua senior-to-be Shai Pulawa didn’t let the so-called off-season pass him by. Instead, the cornerback/slot back worked with the urgency of someone mindful that his eligibility clock is slowly ticking.

If anything, the months in the weight room can seem long without a game to prepare for.

“It can get boring – we’ve been in the weight room since February – but we always know we have to push ourselves,” said Pulawa. “We’re always looking ahead to the season and how we’re going to prepare for that. We’re excited about it.

“We just have to work hard in practice and stick to the coaches’ plan. We don’t look ahead to the future.”

Pulawa and the Mules recently closed two weeks of spring practice and will be conditioning and taking part in 7-on-7 scrimmages.

Prep football teams are prohibited from full contact until the official start of fall camp next month. As a two-way skilled-position player, the coming weeks will be eventful for Pulawa.

He played some safety this spring, in addition to his customary corner spot, and figures to play more on offense this fall with the departure of several standouts from the wide receiver corps.

“They didn’t need me there last year, but this year I hope to get in on offense more,” he said.

Pulawa earned OIA Red West Second Team honors as a cornerback last season. Although he calls speed his best attribute, his work ethic has carried him far.

“I used to play football and basketball, and I wrestled, but football has been my love since I started playing in sixth grade,” he said.

“I had to work all the time at it. As a freshman, I didn’t get a lot of playing time, but the coaches pushed me to get better. At the end of my sophomore year, I was moved up (with several other sophomores during varsity playoffs) and got to play on some special teams.”

In the classroom, Pulawa carries a 3.3 grade-point average, is a peer mediator and part of the school’s Leadership program.

“He’s a good kid and a good player,” head coach Nolan Tokuda said. “He’s an avid student, who represents us well in the community. He’s a good example, and he thinks of his teammates first.”

Leilehua is coming off a 10-2-1 season that saw the team go a perfect 6-0 in the OIA’s Red West. With 12 starters back, the Mules Nation is expecting more of the same. So is Pulawa.

“Last year’s team was real talented, but if we believe and keep pushing, we can do it again,” he said.

“We want to show our stuff on game day and see how we do. We have good coaches. They have a plan for everything, and it’s one of the reasons why we have that tradition.”