Chicago bound: Damien DB Bubba Kauhi to play at Olivet Nazarene

Patience was stretched thin, but Anstyn Kauhi refused to lose hope.

On Wednesday, the young man they call “Bubba” was rewarded when the Damien defensive back signed a letter of intent with Olivet Nazarene. That makes it two sons in the Kauhi family who are heading to the continent soon. Kauhi’s brother, Austyn Kauhi of Kamehameha, signed with Syracuse in December.

“I feel good. I’m ready for college. My mom (Shantel Kauhi) worked hard for me to get this far,” said Kauhi, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety/nickel.

Olivet Nazarene, a member of the NAIA, is one of the newer recruiting presences in the islands. The Tigers joined the Mid-States Football Association in 1994 and played for the national championship in ’98.

“They’re located an hour away from Chicago. They’re a safe Christian school. I kind of like it. I like the city. It’s something different,” said Kauhi, who has a 3.2 grade-point average. “Hawaii is Hawaii. Trees, mountains and I’ll always love Hawaii. It’s time for something different.”

Austyn “Bubba” Kauhi, fourth from left, celebrates his signing with Olivet Nazarene with teammates Akela Arecchi, Kahiau Young, Dallas Repollo, Alohi Arecchi, Makana Meyers, Duke Hoohuli and Parker Nascimento. Photo courtesy of Bubba Kauhi.

Kauhi had other opportunities.

“I was considering Whitworth. That was a top school. Coach (Koa) Kaai at UH called me up and talked about a walk-on, but it wasn’t a guaranteed walk-on, so (Olivet Nazarene) is a safe move. It came down to finances and what I felt about the school.”

Damien football coach Eddie Klaneski enjoys seeing Kauhi on the gridiron.

“Bubba is one of the most coachable kids we’ve had at Damien. He is also very personable and gets along well with all his teammates. One the field, he is very versatile with his size and athleticism, so he can play many different positions,” Klaneski said. “He is kind of unique with his skill set. Very long and athletic, but with the skills of a smaller guy.”

Kauhi has also been a student of the game.

“He physically got a lot bigger and stronger over the years, but where I think he has made a huge difference is in his understanding of the game. He has the ability to adjust and put himself in the best position to make plays,” said Klaneski, a former defensive back at Hawaii and Damien. “On and off the field, he has been a great example of hard work and dedication to himself, his coaches and teammates. You can always count on him to be on time and get work done. No excuses.”

Getting exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic and going without a high school football season for the past 15 months didn’t help with the patience factor. Damien and the rest of the football programs in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu are hoping — and planning — for a “Season 2” schedule that would begin on March 1.

The plans include split squads of two or more for the bigger, Open Division programs. Damien, a perennial Division I title contender, would get to play those segmented Open squads.

“Coach said we might just have ILH games. I think it’ll be a good opportunity playing against hard teams. That’ll challenge us to work harder,” Kauhi said. “It’ll be fun.”

Grandfather Alika and grandmother Rayne Kauhi celebrated Bubba Kauhi’s signing with Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Bubba Kauhi.

The Monarchs returned to classes on campus in the past three weeks, but workouts are still off the premises. The team works out at various fields, Kauhi said.

Adapting to strange, different times is the new normal for talented student-athletes and families alike.

“My parents were surprised about my decision, but my mom was OK with it. As much as she loves me, she wanted me to experience something different. My dad (Alex) likes it, too,” Kauhi said. “It’s a nice campus.”

But what will his new coaches, teammates and friends call him, Bubba or Anstyn?

“I”m going to tell them call me Bubba,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only Bubba there.”

There’s only one Bubba at Damien.

“I’m so proud and happy for him and his family because they deserve this so much,” Klaneski said. “I know he will represent his family and his Damien family very well when he puts those pads on at Olivet.”

The MSFA includes the Lawrence Tech, another program that has made inroads locally. Roosevelt defensive lineman Jackie Johnson III committed to LTU last week. LTU also made an offer to Saint Louis defensive lineman Anthony Sagapolutele last summer.

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “My Hero Academia” (

2. The Avengers (MCU) movie series.

“I would rank them Captain Marvel at No. 1. I really like that one. Then the first Avengers, and the third one would be Captain America, Winter Soldier.”

3. (tie) “Lord of The Rings” and “The Hobbit”

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Steak

“I cook my own. Garlic salt, butter, pepper. Rib eye. I like it medium well. My brother thinks I can’t cook, so he doesn’t ask for any.”

2. Chicken Alfredo (by mom)

“She makes it maybe once every two months.”

3. Hamburger with cream of mushroom

“My mom makes the hamburger patties from scratch. I help her with the ingredients.”

Top 3 music artists

1. SOJA – “Not Done Yet”

2. Fiji – “Jowenna”

3. The Steppas – “Lost at Sea”

New life skill

“During quarantine, I started watching anime. I was stuck in the house, so that was new.”

Shout outs

“I’d like to shout out my family, my aunties and uncles. I’d also like to shout out my school, and also my girlfriend.”


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