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Scholar-athlete Hookipa Sakalia commits to attend University of Montana-Western

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Mar 19, 2021

Accompanied by his mom, Ofa Olakauatu, Hookipa Sakalia commits to attend the University of Montana-Western.

LAHAINA — At 6’1″ and 305 pounds, he is a giant of a teenager with an immense future awaiting him. Sixteen-year-old Hookipa Sakalia is a Lahainaluna High School scholar-athlete who will finish his senior year at the historic campus this spring.

An honor student and All-State football player who will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average, Sakalia recently signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Montana-Western, an NAIA school. He plans to major in criminal justice, psychology, sociology and anthropology, pointing to a career in law enforcement.

He has been an all-star anchor along the offensive trenches for the Luna state championship teams of 2016-19, and they were headed for a fifth consecutive title before the pandemic erased the 2020 campaign. His quiet leadership and exemplary work ethic were major contributors to the success of the program during his four-year career with the program.

Articulate and poised beyond his years, Sakalia credits his family, coaches, teammates and friends for the success he has experienced in growing up in Lahaina.

Specifically, he recognizes his mom, Ofa Olakauatu; his position coaches, Dean Rickard and Craig Wiseman; Auntie Laurie Viela; Maiki Viela; and Abigail Akamine for helping him along his life pathway.

“All of these people have helped me become the person I am today. Especially the coaches — they pushed me to develop good character. They taught me the importance of concentrating on school work, making the right decisions, make the right choices, keep my head in there,” said Sakalia.

Lahainaluna co-head coach and Maui County Assistant Chief of Police Dean Rickard said, “One thing for sure about Kipa is that he will be missed. He started with our Big Boys program as a sixth-grader, and from that point on, he played a major role anchoring our offensive line and with our overall success moving forward. What stood out the most was his unquestionable work ethic, dedication, commitment and willingness to do whatever it took to make the team better. Kipa certainly did his part athletically, and more important, academically.”

“He has played every offensive line position and was the anchor of the offensive line at center in our championship run. He reminds me of those rare ‘throwback’ players whose versatility and passion for the game was obvious, and his off-season work ethic allowed him to grow into a player that always contributed to the team with a ‘never quit’ mentality,” he continued.

“Kipa has not let the pandemic stand in the way of his desire to play football collegiately. He understood that he needed to continue prepping himself academically, mentally, and physically should an opportunity arise. He has done so by maintaining his GPA and staying in playing shape with strength conditioning training. Off the field, he is responsible, courteous, and friendly. These attributes will serve him well in his future years.”

“He continues to exude leadership qualities and serves as a good example to the younger players thinking of playing at the next level. LHS football program’s message is simple: any player willing to put in the time and effort will almost certainly be presented with great opportunities to accomplish any goals they set for themselves, and Kipa has certainly demonstrated this philosophy. He will be a great addition for the University of Montana-Western football program, and we wish him all the best moving forward,” concluded Coach Rickard.