The future looks bright for Ikaika Tihada Viela
LAHAINA – For much of his childhood life, Ikaika Tihada Viela has toiled in the shadow of those around him.
First, it was big sister Maiki Viela shining in the spotlight as perhaps the outstanding female basketball player in the history of the Maui Interscholastic League, as she led the Lady Lunas to the 2010 Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championship and earned Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year and All-America honors. Then it was on to a collegiate career at Gonzaga University and Morehead State for big sis.
As a youngster, Ikaika further stood in the shadow of others as he grew up alongside Coach Lanny “Pops” Tihada (his maternal grandfather) within the Lahainaluna High School football program as a water boy, laundry assistant, locker room and field attendant, and fundraiser for the highly successful team.
And when he finally earned his shot to play for the Lunas, guess where he ended up? You got it – down in the trenches with the down and dirty, rarely recognized offensive linemen.
He was a four-year starter for Lahainaluna as he helped establish the tradition of hard-nosed offensive football that the program has gained throughout the state with the growing record of MIL titles and three consecutive state championships.
Ikaika earned MIL All-Star and All-State recognition, Platinum and Scholar-Athlete awards, and played in the Scholastic Senior Bowl a few weeks ago here on Maui. But can anyone ever remember hearing his name over the loudspeakers during games? Ever see his name in the newspapers? Nope.
Perhaps that is all about to change as this extremely humble Lahainaluna senior embarks on the next chapter of his charming life.
Ikaika’s first choice is the United States Air Force, and he has taken a big step toward that goal with his recent interview with Hawaii recruiters. He has also gained admission to Boise State University – where fellow LHS standout offensive lineman Dalton Lins currently plays – and he also received offers from Whitworth and Pacific Universities in the Mainland Northwest region.
With his sparkling 4.1 GPA along with the football and community service resume he has compiled in student government and Lahaina Complex Tutoring, the light of the future shines brightly for this Lahaina boy.
He hopes to major in business and/or communication in the Air Force and college, as he feels this would be useful in any career.
Ikaika is extremely grateful to his family – especially mom Laurie – his coaches, friends and the entire Lahaina community for the success he has attained thus far in his young life.
“I really look to Pops (Coach Lanny) as the major influence in my life. He always encouraged and pushed me to be the best I could be in everything. Moreover, he has made me be polite and respectful to family and community. I think the person I am today, the growth I have had, is due to the influence of Pops and Coach (Bobby) Watson and his family. It has been tough love from a very young age.”
Indeed, this young man exemplifies the “Lahaina Strong” spirit of selflessness, work ethic and humility that manifests the integrity of our community.