Kahuku freshman Chansen Garcia lands offer from Navy

Chansen Garcia, at left, is the oldest of three. From left: Chansen, Urnel Casey, Ilikea Garcia-Casey, Caiden Garcia-Casey, Ira Casey. Photo courtesy of Ira Casey.

Chansen Garcia never thought about Annapolis before.

Now, the Kahuku sophomore-to-be has a football scholarship offer from Navy.

“(Navy) Coach Ken (Niumatalolo) saw my video. They called Coach Sterling (Carvalho), and he called my dad. It was shocking,” Garcia said. “My dad told my mom (Urnel). I thought they were joking with me at first. She was breaking down, so I was breaking down. It brought us to tears.”

No mainland combines or camps. No varsity game video, though he was promoted from the junior varsity last year. Just constant work on the field and track.

“It just boosted my motivation and makes me want to train harder and made me believe even more,” Garcia said.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound two-sport standout played for Kahuku’s junior varsity team last fall. His promising season on the track was cut short by the COVID-19 lockdown, but the Naval Academy was impressed. A 3.6 grade-point average with a few honors classes did not hurt.

“I’m still amazed,” said his father, Ira Casey. “I knew he worked hard, but I was shocked it happened this early. They normally don’t offer freshmen, but they liked his highlights, his speed, his hips.”

Former Hawaii player Billy Ray Stutzmann is Navy’s point man on Hawaii prospects. Stutzmann has been as aware and aggressive of island players as perhaps any Division I recruiter in this offseason.

“They said they know more colleges will come around, but remember who was the first,” Garcia’s dad said.

With nobody from their immediate family in the military, the ohana did some research. The Naval Academy requires a couple of extra years in service after graduation, but also guarantees a healthy salary.

“I’m really impressed with the Navy setting up your career. The more we look into it, we see how amazing an offer it really is,” he said.

Former Campbell running back Sky Lactaoen recently enrolled at the academy, following the footsteps of many island athletes who have thrived at Annapolis.

Garcia ran an electronically-timed 4.52 in the 40-yard dash recently. He played cornerback, safety, running and returned kicks last season. Garcia also added 15 pounds in this off-season after playing at 155 last fall.

Utah expressed interest briefly, reaching out to Garcia’s father.

“A coach contacted my dad. I haven’t been to Utah. They wanted to know my track times and see my game film,” he said.

Much of his summer is spent training with Godspeed Track Club at Waipio. Last summer, after his eighth-grade year, he ran a 10.9 in the 100-meter sprint, a time that would easily qualify Garcia for the HHSAA state championships. Also as an eighth-grader, he ran a 23.2 in the 200, and he is working on the 400 this year.

“I think it would be crazy, but it would be fun to do two sports in college,” he said.

Lockdown staples
Top 3 shows/movies
Garcia: “I don’t watch a lot (on TV or online). I like watching highlights on YouTube. Charles Woodson, Tyrann Mathieu, (the late) Sean Taylor. Woodson, his ball skills, in the air or in a (receiver’s) hands, he’s always trying to hit the ball. Tyrann, I like how savage he is at his size. His mindset, the way he plays the game, is incredible. Sean Taylor, the way he hits. That’s what I picked up, the moves, his feet and he wraps up.”

Top 3 foods
1. Burgers. “Any burgers, cheeseburgers. I like Denny’s cheeseburger deluxe with the fries.
2. BBQ. “I like southern BBQ wings. I got it in North Carolina when we visited there for a national track meet last summer. It was moist. It was delicious. They gave me 12 (wings).”
3. Ahi poke. “From Foodland or Tamura’s. The ninja something.”

Top 3 drinks
1. Water
2. Gatorade (blue/berry)
3. Brisk iced tea

New skill
Garcia: “I learned paddle boarding at Bathtubs in Laie. My uncle (Mike Garcia) taught me. We been out there maybe 10 times.”

Shout outs
Garcia: “My family for all that they’ve done pushing me and supporting me. And I want to thank all my Pop Warner (Koolauloa Red Raiders peewee). I want to thank Coach Keala (Santiago). He’s a really good coach, and Coach Stu (Carvalho) and Coach Sterling (Carvalho). And my (track) coach, Mike Harvey for working on my speed. And (TMF) Coach Kawehena Johnson for working on my DB footwork.”


  1. HailFromDaNorth July 18, 2020 11:18 am

    Watching this kid in camps, I knew he was gonna be someone special. Going 1v1 vs some of the best receivers in Hawaii and he was only a 8th grader! Shutting them down too!! In the championship game last season he made an impact on special teams. Hell be someone to watch out for these coming years. Keep doing your thing, making everyone from North shore and Hawaii proud.

  2. Frank Pugliese July 18, 2020 12:40 pm

    Good things happen to good people. As a fellow Godspeed track parent I have observed Chansen and his siblings for several seasons. He is respectful, determined, and very talented. Congratulations to his Mom and Dad for raising such a fine young Man. Shout out to Coach Mike Harvey and Rick Chin who have inspired so many young athletes through the Godspeed Track club.

  3. Micah July 18, 2020 2:14 pm

    Proud of this kid right here. I’ve see. The hard work he and his family put in day in and day out. He will continue to make Hawaii and the North Shore proud.

  4. Ira Casey July 18, 2020 8:35 pm

    Much mahalos for all of the love and congratulations everyone has been showing Chansen. Chansen also wanted to say “thank you to Coach Joe and Amanda Whitford for helping him to start his track career and setting him on a path for success from back in the Ko’olauloa days, Coach Rick Chin from GodSpeed track for helping to continue his knowledge and success in track. And also a huge mahalos to our great community for all the love, support and guidance!”

  5. Papa July 19, 2020 12:51 pm

    I am very proud of Chansen. He is a great kid, he is humble and respectful. I am going to echo The sentiment expressed earlier, it is great to see someone being recognized not only for the God given talent he has but also for who he is, and for his work ethics. He definitely makes us proud here in Hawaii and on the North Shore. Chansen I am proud of you and your family.

  6. ILoveHawaii July 20, 2020 8:27 am

    Congratulations young man!!
    Keep up the great work and good luck.
    I am sure that everyone is looking forward to seeing you in action!!

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