Alema Moeava has the blueprint for survival and success.
The 6-foot-2, 340-pound Punahou senior has the rare combination of versatility and resilience as a key offensive lineman. The left tackle signed a letter of intent with Valley City State (N.D.) on Wednesday.
“I feel great, like a sigh of relief,” Moeava said on Thursday. “I love the campus. It’s very small and you get to know everybody. I felt very comfortable with the coaches. They’re very welcoming and I felt really comfortable talking to them. There was no invisible wall between us. It was like talking to a friend.”
After mostly lining up at left tackle for the Buffanblu, Moeava expects to play guard and center at VCSU.
Son of former McKinley football coach William Moeava, now Punahou’s offensive line coach, Alema is ready to exit his comfort zone. A few hours after he finished Thursday’s classes, he was in cerebral mode.
“I had European History and Philosophy this morning. That class changed my view on a lot of things we take for granted in life. John Locke, he’s a philosopher. He said, ‘No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.’ You can have memories, but it’s more about the experience,” Moeava said.
At VCSU, he’ll see another islander, Zach Gardner.
“I did some Brian Derby Camp with Zach. He’s a center from Mililani. We used to always see each other at Saturday (Derby Camp),” Moeava said.
Moeava is a connector of people, says one of his biggest fans.
“Alema is such a great kid who comes from a great family,” Punahou coach Leonard Lau said. “Just a solid person on and off the field. He gets along with everyone. Very respectful and caring towards others. He leads by example through his hard work and commitment in the classroom, weight room and football field. He brings that positivity to everyone he’s around.”
Valley City was named the state’s “most beautiful town” by Expedia in 2017. The Vikings became a charter member of the North Star Athletic Association in 1994.
Moeava considered Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), another NAIA school that has hit the recruiting trail in the islands recently. Damien defensive back Austyn “Bubba” Kauhi signed with ONU on Wednesday.
“The facilities over there are amazing. Three practice fields and a game field, but what set VCSU apart is the scholarship money,” he said. “I want to take the stress off my parents.”
Punahou and the rest of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s football programs are anticipating a spring season. It will be modified. It will be different. Before long, Moeava will graduate and soon after, begin his new journey.
“I’m supposed to leave in early August,” Moeava said. “I’ll miss my family and the food. And Zippy’s.”
He plans to major in Physical Therapy or Kinesiology.
“I guess being a student-athlete, you go through a lot of injuries and kinks. I kind of want to help the young athletes and keep them in shape for the future,” Moeava said.
Staying in shape has been a challenge without the normal hours at Punahou’s weight-training facility, but he found alternatives.
“It’s weird schedule, but football kids get an hour of work at school. I work out at Coach Jon Anuenue’s house. He coaches Metro Tigers,” Moeava noted.
Lau witnessed Moeava’s maturation as a student.
“His football abilities have always been solid. Every year, he’s gotten better and better, but I think the two areas that he mostly improved were in the classroom and his leadership on the field,” Lau said. “He realized how important it was to perform well academically to achieve his goals of playing college football. Seeing him grow and mature these last three years has been great. I’m super happy for Alema, his dad and his entire family. I’m excited to see him do great things on and off the field at VCSU.”
Top 3 movies/shows
1. “Naruto: Shippuden” (Netflix)
“The underrated part is the subtitles. A lot of people don’t get used to it. They speak Japanese, but they have subtitles.”
2. “The Good Doctor” (Hulu)
“The main character is an autistic doctor. It’s more of a drama.”
3. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” (crunchyroll.com)
“I just think it’s cool. There’s a lot of bloodshed. It’s not for 5-year-old kids. Maybe 13-year-olds if they have a strong stomach. They’re coming up with new episodes real soon.”
Top 3 food/snack/drink
1. Korean chicken, Zippy’s (Ewa)
2. Fried chicken bowl, Itchy Butt (Makiki)
“You wouldn’t really order their food because of the name, Itchy Butt, but the food is good.”
3. Crunch Don, Manoa Sushi
“It’s kinds of like a poke bowl, like spicy ahi.”
4. Sapasui by dad
“No, I would have to take some time learning to make it first. Glass noodles, corned beef, onions. Some people add peas, carrots and corn, but my dad keeps it with the meat. No veggies. The sauce is what I have no clue what he puts in it. I don’t think I’ll make that. If I make anything up there, I’ll make some musubis so I can make some money.”
Top 3 musicians
1. Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy”
2. The Temptations – “My Girl”
3. GQ – “Sitting in the Park”
New life skill
“We cleared out our garage and built a weight rack, and a new floor so we can drop the weights. It took a day and another day for the floor to set in. It took a lot of hard work.”
“Shout out to my family and my new family, the Trench Dawgz, to all my Punahou boys, and my little brother, Akamu.”