Leilehua’s Kalei Akagi ready for next chapter: West Point

Leilehua's Kalei Akagi put a stiff arm on Moanalua defensive back Aukai Grace in the first half of the OIA Division I final on Oct. 26, 2019. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

On the gridiron, the speed, versatility and reliability of Kalei Akagi made him a Swiss Army knife for Leilehua’s offense.

Little did Akagi know that more than a year after playing his unexpectedly last high school football game — in November of 2019 — he would literally become a member of the U.S. Military Academy. Akagi signed a letter of intent to play football for Army. West Point awaits.

“I feel honored and blessed with this opportunity to further my skills in this sport. I’m relieved that all my hard work paid off,” said Akagi, who has a 3.3 grade-point average. “When I signed my letter, it was a lot of stress taken off my shoulders. All the sacrifice by me and my family has paid off.”

Pacific, Puget Sound, Willamette and Linfield also pursued the playmaker. He played slotback, wide receiver and occasionally, running back and quarterback during his career as a Mule.

The combination of a West Point education and earning a degree without dropping a dime made this a win-win equation for Akagi. The connection with Army assistant coach Sean Saturnio, the former Waipahu head coach, is another plus.

“They’re planning to use me at slotback,” Akagi added.

Dean and Angel Akagi saw son Kalei sign a letter of intent to play football for the U.S. Military Academy. Photo courtesy of Kalei Akagi.

The trust goes both ways. The 2020 football season in Hawaii was initially postponed, and later was cancelled. Akagi did what many other island student-athletes did. He put the grit into his daily workouts.

“I took a month off because of a family vacation, but the day I got home, I was back to the grind. Better my craft, keep grinding. It’s not the ideal, but you’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got. I’m lucky enough to have a powerlifting coach. I lift there with a couple other guys,” he said.

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “Greater” (Netflix)

2. “Safety” (Disney Plus)

3. “The Lion King” (Disney Plus)

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Steak

2. Salad

3. Saimin

Top 3 music artists

1. Luke Combs – “Lovin’ on You”

2. Drake – “Legend”

3. Dennis Pavao – “Holei”

Shout outs

“I’d like to thank my parents (Angel and Dean), my brother and sister for having my back. My mainland family. My coaches for supporting me through the years, helping me get better at the game I love always pushing me to be better than myself. My teachers and everyone that supported me.”


  1. ??? February 10, 2021 6:12 am

    Do you know if he was ever in the J.R.O.T.C program at Leilehua? If so, it will make his transition to West Point much easier.

    Congratulations to the Keiki……

  2. Paul Honda February 10, 2021 10:41 am

    Good question. Hmm…

  3. Paul Honda February 11, 2021 11:27 am

    Kalei said he wasn’t in JROTC. He’s a disciplined student-athlete, though. I think he’ll do fine.

  4. ??? February 11, 2021 6:04 pm


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