The original plan was to stay in Heber City, Utah, for football season and take it one step at a time.
Now, eight months after landing at Wasatch High School, Jarinn Kalama is a future BYU Cougar. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior committed to BYU on Wednesday.
“I just feel like BYU would be a good fit for me,” said Kalama, who has added 10 pounds to his frame after a winter of weight training.
Kalama, who has a 3.3 grade-point average, had a stellar season after transferring from Mililani to Wasatch last July. Kalama caught 62 passes for 725 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Wasps reached the 5A state semifinals.
He lives with an uncle, Stanton Akana, and auntie, Jolene Akana. Stanton Akana is an assistant coach at Wasatch, and Kalama’s younger brother (La‘akea) and cousin (Tausili Akana) also played football for Wasatch.
Kalama is in the final week of baseball preseason, another sport he played at Mililani. Wasatch begins its regular season next week.
“It’s going good. We just got back from a tournament in St. George. We played four preseason games,” said Kalama, who is a right-handed pitcher and also plays right field.
He bats left-handed. As a pitcher, he’s the No. 1 man in the rotation.
“At Mililani, it was someone else. There’s a pretty good lefty,” he recalled.
Wasatch plays baseball in Utah’s 5A division, the second-highest classification, just like football.
BYU gave the OK for him to pursue both sports in Provo.
“That was one of the factors for me committing this early. They’re allowing me to play baseball right away (as a freshman),” Kalama said.
Two other schools that have expressed interest in him are Boise State and Utah.
“If they offer, I wouldn’t de-commit (from BYU),” Kalama said. “I’m not sure if (Boise State and Utah) know I play baseball, honestly.”
So, Kalama’s epic new chapter continues in a town next to the Wasatch Mountains. Baseball practice on Wednesday in Heber City isn’t quite the same as Mililani, where the temperature was 72 degrees on Wednesday afternoon — and rainy.
In Heber City, it was 35 degrees, Kalama said, and windy.
“We wear jackets and most of the time, you’re moving around,” he said.
Training in the offseason for football isn’t the same, either, though he and his teammates try.
“It’s easier to train in Hawaii, honestly. Over here, the weather is a big factor. One day it’ll be nice, and the next day it’ll be freezing and rain,” he said. “But a lot of the boys still have a mindset to get better.”
It all began with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the postponement and eventual cancellation of public-high school fall sports in the islands. Kalama was long gone before the official announcement by the DOE and public-school leagues. If no pandemic had happened, things would’ve been different.
“I would’ve tried to ball out and see what happens (at Mililani),” he said. “I didn’t have any offers before the pandemic.”