Here’s an extended chat with Punahou senior Miki Suguturaga, who is featured in Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser prep page.
Punahou football, track and field
Last name pronounced Soon-goo-roo-tonga.
FOURTEEN SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS
Arkansas, Arizona State, Army, BYU, Colorado, Hawaii, UNLV, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington State.
> “My mom always reminds me that everything I do, put God first, stay humble and stay focused on where I need to be.”
Athlete: Alan Page (Minnesota Vikings 1967-78)
> “I guess I just watch a lot football. I just happened to see him on video. I like the way he plays the game of football. He always was the guy who asked coaches questions about why he had to do this move or this play, and help others on the team, too.
Team: San Francisco 49ers
> “My brother and most of my cousins, that’s our team. I guess it’s because my mom and dad, my older cousins liked them. Especially Steve Young and Joe Montana. They work well together now, but it’s not consistent. They need to be patient. From what I see, they have a lot of trust in (quarterback Blaine) Gabbert. I like to see that. That’s what football’s about. You’ve got to trust the guys around you.”
Food (at home): Lu Kapapulu (canned corned beef with pele or lu leaves and ufi.
> “My mom (Ema) makes it. I’m not very good at cooking, especially Tongan food.”
Food (eating out): Pizza or burgers
> “Pizza Hut. Any kind, any time. Teddy’s Bigger Burger, the spicy Killauea. Windward Mall, HNC Burgers. They sell really good teriburgers and teri fries.”
Hobby outside of sports: Boy Scouts.
> Eagle Scout — “I’m striving to be there, working on it.”
Movie: Hercules (cartoon)
> “When I was a kid, we had the VHS (tapes). It was one of my movies since then. As I get older, I see how it impacted me. Kind of that determination of him to become who he wanted to be.”
TV show: The Flash
Music artist: Kendrick Lamar
> “His music has that effect on you where you can use it as a pump-up song. I listen to a lot of music that inspires me. I like a lot of oldies, the Temptations, just to relax while I’m doing my homework. But as an artist, I admire his the most, how he influences with messages in his music positively.”
Teacher (elem through HS): “All my teachers were my teacher because they taught me something and had a positive influence in my life.”
Class (elementary through high school): Math
> “I like geometry and trig more than I like algebra. Problems with less words, more of a numbers guy.”
Place to relax: Home
Motto/scripture: Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Matthew 23:12
What your mom (Emaleti Mokofisi) always says that you can’t forget:
Mom: “Always God first, then everything else will fall into place. Develop your relationship with your Father in heaven and everything will be great in your life.
> “It’s always a thing she’s been teaching us. As we get older, we understand things differently. She always wants us on the straight and narrow path.”
What your dad (Sitani Suguturaga) always said that you can’t forget:
> “My dad passed away when I was little, but I remember he used to always take my brother and I fishing or to the farm and work. He would always say, “Once you start something, finish it.” So basically, don’t quit.
> I have four younger sisters and three older half-siblings (from dad) in Utah. I remember very little, but he would take us to throw net. The farm on our property. When we were younger it was usually my dad, but now my mom took over and we help her out. It’s an ongoing process. We have a lot of different things. Banana, mango, pomegranates, papaya, orange, lemon, lime. Pele (for upulu). A lot of different bushes, peppermint, starting to grow some taro (both wet and dry). Cherry tomatoes, celery, green onion.
> “My sisters and older brothers can help out. My mom rents out the house so people help out a lot. She’s OK because while we’re at school and doing extracurricular things.”
> “The passing of my father, it wasn’t really a sad thing in my life. I was too young to understand. I was like 5 years old. Seeing my mom and everyone else in my family sad made me want to help more, but it made me more independent in a way. Everyone was going through it, I kind of learned to do things on my own and take care of myself at the same time.”
What is the history or background of your first and last name?
> I was named after my mom’s youngest brother, Miki Mokofisi, who passed away after coming home from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He went on his mission with a brain tumor wanting to serve his mission and die on his mission rather than do chemotherapy.
> “I guess he was really young, so he was sort of like an older cousin to all my older siblings, my older cousins. He taught them a lot. Now they always remind me of who he was and what he stood for, and who I need to be. Where my name came from.
How does football affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
> “It takes a lot of time out of my day with workouts and practice, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make because I love the sport.”
Your earliest memories of football when you started playing:
> “Fourth grade playing for the HALOS Windward Warriors team as a running back and free safety. Fun times being the decoy running back getting run over every play. As a kid I wasn’t really the type, looking back now, I didn’t like to hit people I guess. I was really small and we played a lot of bigger teams. My brother (Jioji) was more the person to hit first and get angry. Playing RB and S I’d always mess up because I felt bad. Coming off the field crying because someone blamed me.”
> Note: Brother Jioji went to Kahuku, Castle and Kailua. He is two years older than Miki.
What do you like to do — or what’s something you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
> “I’m good at most video games like Call of Duty and Clash Royale. I always joke that I would be a video game nerd if I didn’t play football and have such little time to do anything time consuming and wasteful.”
Does Mom approve of the video-game hobby?
> “Mom is telling me all the time (to stop playing). She tries to, but it takes over sometimes.”
Can you rank the best COD issues?
> 1. Black Ops 3; 2. Modern Warfare 3; 3. Black Ops 2.
What is your ultimate dream?
> “Be the best at whatever I do in life.
1. Play college football and in the NFL.
2. Plan B: I might, if this house and farm are still here, work here and get it back to when my dad had it. I didn’t really think that far in the future. I focus on right now and what I need to do to get to where I need to be, not where I want to be.”
Gaining 15 pounds in the offseason to 6-5, 260.
> “For me, it’s hard (to gain weight). I have a high metabolism. We work out a lot, stay conditioned to keep up with teams like Saint Louis and Kamehameha.
“Staying healthy. I like to say I’m eating healthy stuff, whole wheat bread or brown rice. Try to stay away from processed foods.”
About the prospective colleges offering scholarships:
> “Each of them, I need to find out which is best for me. I try to think of all of them, for me and my mom, we’re deciding on schools we want to visit. The schools that I need to check out. I want to see if I fit on the East Coast more. I’ve got family in Utah, already been to the West side of the country.”
What does it mean to have a chance at a free college education?
> “It’s a blessing. The first one was a huge blessing for me. Going to Punahou and having to pay for tuition for Punahou, this takes a load off for at least one of us to get more education for virtually free.”