In his young life, Sione Veikoso has learned and grown, figuratively and literally. The Kailua senior has overcome a great loss in his life off the field, and reached mountain peaks individually on the field and in the classroom.
Here is the full feature on Veikoso in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Here are some slices that didn’t make it into the feature story:
> Christian Mejia, another three-sport standout, was one of the team’s leaders when Veikoso was learning the ropes. Mejia was on his way to all-state honors, eventually signing with Washington State.
“In Sione’s first year, Christian used to tear him up every day at practice, but Sione would tear people up on Friday and Saturday nights,” Wong said. “Last year, when Sione was a junior, it was a totally different battle. Sione was winning sometimes.”
> Comparison: Coach Joe Wong sees his left tackle as a younger version of former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden.
Ogden is a Hall of Fame inductee.
“He was a real athletic kind of guy, 6-8. The reason why I say this kid can go a long way is his academics, how he conducts himself as a player and as a human being,” Wong said. “And he has barely scratched the surface of how good he can be.”
> Learning effective leadership:
Veikoso’s physicality on the gridiron belies a different side. He hopes to go skydiving one day. He wants to major in engineering, but art is his favorite class. He’s not an extrovert, but has become a leader.
“I’m not really a natural talker,” Veikoso said. “I learned it from our captains when was younger: Martin (Tigilau), Miga (Gaisoa), Kalei (Kealoha-Machado), Awa (Byers).”
“He makes it easy for any coach to coach him,” Wong said. “He’s a model athlete and a model student. He picks up his teammates, and if you don’t bring it against him, he’ll let you know.”
> When the dust settles, offensive line coach Kevin Pagan will miss Veikoso.
“Nothing gets to his head. He’s one of the greatest kids I’ve been around,” Pagan said. “Being around him every day, it feels like he made a promise to his mom to be successful in whatever he does.
Sione Loni Veikoso
Kailua football, basketball, volleyball
Sisters: Mele, Sanimata
Brother: Sione Matileka
Q & A Favorites
Athlete: Michael Jordan
“I like the famous quotes he said about success. How his mom set his foundation and his roots. He couldn’t have done it without her.”
Food (at home): Steak.
“My uncle Siua (Kava). He grills it. I like mine well-done. He taught me a couple of times.’
Food (eating out): Zippy’s Korean barbecue chicken.
“Every morning I have seminary scripture study at 6 a.m. I sleep pretty late, too.”
Movie: Lion King
“The beginning scene when the animals come together and the monkey tells Simba about the pride rock, when he was born.”
Teacher: Mr. V (elementary substitute teacher) gave us a lot of candy. He taught us only a couple times (Waimanalo Elementary School).
“My junior year I was 4.0 through the year. I had to make up for freshman year. It’s just overcoming procrastination. I procrastinated a lot my freshman year. Now I do everything on time. It’s just effort. I want to get a degree and get into a career that I really want to major in. Just be successful. I’m thinking of engineering.”
“I like the art class, it’s chill. I’m good at math but my favorite is art. I like to draw stick figures fighting with weapons.”
Place to relax: “My room. When I’m there, I’m at peace. I know the day is done.”
What your mom (Wendy) said:
“My mom used to always say ‘Whatever you do in life starts at home.’
(Wendy Veikoso died in 2016 from a brain aneurism.)
“Being around my family helps. I remember her waking me up, taking me to the swap meet. I was 10 years old. That was on Saturdays. Whoever woke up would go with her every other Saturday.
“I got the fact I had to listen. I miss her. I’m sorry for all the troubles I gave her.”
What your coaches say: “Put in the work now, or we’re gonna do it after practice.”
“My O-line coach, Coach Kevin Pagan, he barks a lot about the good things and bad things. He’ll praise us when we do good, but he’ll get down on us when we don’t do it right.”
Major dislike: “I don’t play softball. I hate softball. It’s like baseball. Baseball is boring.”
“I attended Aliamanu Elementary, Kalihi Elementary, and Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School. We moved to Waimanalo, then to Kailua (Enchanted Lakes) with my uncle (Siua) and auntie (Michelle).”
Youth league(s): “I played basketball for P.A.L.”
Bucket list: “My ultimate bucket list would be going skydiving. You’re up there for 5 or 10 minutes, I’m not really sure. You can do anything you want. I just like it from watching it in movies.”
What is the history of your name?
“My name has no history. It means John in Tongan.”
How did you start playing football?
“I only played basketball in intermediate. My freshman year, I was too scared to play football. I never played it before, and the intensity. Coach Hau (Wong) saw me at one of my basketball games. He told me to come out, so I came out one day and I’ve been going every day since then. Football is way more intense. Football is more competitive. I never really lifted when I was in basketball. I just wanted to get stronger.”
Practicing with Christian Mejia, now at Washington State:
“He was the best defensive end I ever saw. If I could block him at practice, I could go up against anybody in the state. It was mainly technique. I started getting used to Chris’ ways, and tried to develop some techniques to block him.”
The importance of footwork
“I think it’s just natural, probably from basketball, you really need footwork.”
“I’m not really a natural talker. I learned it from watching the seniors when I was a sophomore and junior. Martin (Tigilau), Miga (Gaisoa), Kalei (Kealoha-Machado), Awa (Byers). They were the captains.”
Kailua’s crystal ball
“I don’t really know. We look pretty good so far but we haven’t played the big dogs in our division. I think we’ll see in a couple weeks or so.”
Any shout outs?
“Nah, not really.”
What are you looking for at college?
“Mainly, the perfect situation would be a great education, something different from home.”