Saint Louis WR Koali Nishigaya stands out among award winners at GPA showcase

Saint Louis receiver Koali Nishigaya shook hands with coach Vince Passas, middle, after winning an MVP award during the GPA Football Showcase on Wednesday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Koali Nishigaya has been a reliable target in the Saint Louis receiving corps, catching 68 passes for 909 yards and six touchdowns in his two seasons of varsity ball.

But the sure-handed receiver recognizes the stakes heading into his senior season. Coaches and teammates have raved about Nishigaya in the past, but he still remains lightly recruited, even as a staple on a consensus top-10 team nationally.

“Not really a lot right now,” he said when asked of college interest. “I’m talking to a couple of schools but hopefully more will come.”


Nishigaya’s summer was off to an auspicious start on Wednesday evening at the GPA Football Showcase at Kamehameha as one of six skill players to receive an individual offensive award. His speed and crisp route running was on full display during 7-on-7’s, joining ‘Iolani quarterback Jonah Chong as the only two players to earn the award unanimously.

“Very hungry. This is my year. I’m just trying to prove myself, prove that I can play with the big dogs,” Nishigaya said. “My teammates are so supportive and I appreciate them. They make me a better player.

“I was just playing how I was taught to play, just working on my technique from my coaches and the hard training this offseason. I think that’s what helped me do good today.”

Chong also impressed during 7-on-7’s and was one of three quarterbacks to win an award, joined by Kapolei’s Christian Rapis and Mililani’s Brendyn Agbayani, the possible heir to Dillon Gabriel, the state’s all-time leader in passing yardage.

‘Iolani quarterback Jonah Chong was impressive during the GPA Football Showcase at Kamehameha. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

On defense, Kahuku linebacker Aaron Fonoimoana-Vaomu’s presence was felt both vocally and with his tight coverage during scrimmages. He was appropriately given one of the five awards for that side of the ball.

“I was just going out on the field and having fun,” Fonoimoana-Vaomu said. “Mainly having fun, but working out with all the other boys, getting to know them and making new friends. It’s a small island, so you gotta play all around.”


The Red Raiders were knocked out of last year’s HHSAA Open Division semifinals, breaking a streak of three straight appearances in the state championship game. Fonoimoana-Vaomu says it’s all the more motivation to get back to the big one this season.

“I’m pumped because last year, we didn’t do so well,” he said. “We lost in the playoffs and that’s not Kahuku right there. We’re gonna come back harder and hungrier, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Part of the two-day event at Kapalama involved activities off the field, including classroom sessions.

“Oh, I loved that experience. It taught me more about how valuable the education is in college, especially at Navy where there’s a good education up there,” Fonoimoana-Vaomu said. “Me and my brother (Alex), that’s the only scholarship that we have together so we might go up there.”

Before the 11 individual awards were announced, coaches from each college in attendance took turns giving a speech to all the campers. Coaches from California, Texas, Oregon, Illinois and Colorado representing NCAA Division II and III schools, as well as NAIA and junior colleges gave their own messages about their respective teams, but all stressed the same thing in one way or another: maintaining decent grades in order to play.

“It was good, I was just trying to soak up everything I could learn,” Nishigaya said. “It’s just a blessing being out here.”


The defensive and offensive MVPs posed for a photo with coaches Rich Miano, right, Asai Gilman, bottom left, and Vince Passas, top left, during the 2019 GPA Football Showcase. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Defensive awards, presented by Asai Gilman
Kalen Davis-White (12), OLB, Hilo
Iona Purcell (9), ILB, Saint Louis
Aaron Fonoimoana-Vaomu (12), OLB, Kahuku
Branston Gasper-Birgado (12), DB, Kapolei
Asher Pilanca (12), DB, Mililani

Offensive awards, presented by Vince Passas
Skyler Ramos (12), WR, Kamehameha
Devon Sa-Chisholm (11), WR, Lahainaluna
Christian Rapis (11), QB, Kapolei
Brendyn Agbayani (11), QB, Mililani
Koali Nishigaya (12), WR, Saint Louis
Jonah Chong (12) QB, ‘Iolani

Kamehameha receiver Skyler Ramos dove to catch a pass during the 2019 GPA Football Showcase. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
McKinley receiver Keanu Pimental caught a pass during the 2019 GPA Football Showcase. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

COMMENTS

  1. Jayme Wight June 6, 2019 11:53 am

    Iolani and St. Louis are the two schools that are destroying the competitive balance in Hawaii HS FB.


  2. notes June 6, 2019 1:23 pm

    absolutely. these showcases are really just ways for the ILH to display the talents of the many kids they recruited in a predatory manner. This encourages other children to go to ILH schools so that they can play for winning teams too


  3. Stacey June 6, 2019 2:42 pm

    Jayme Wight i may be wrong but if it was not for St. Louis would Hawaii kids get any attention? Whats wrong with a school taking a kid then developing them so they can get a D1 scholarship? Who does not want to not only win but get developed as well as exsposure? Are you mad that St. Louis never wanted you? get over it


  4. Afan June 6, 2019 3:34 pm

    Dudes starting early!!!! It’s only June! Stop complaining let the kids play. There were some public school kids that won awards and did well at the camp!


  5. Jayme Wight June 6, 2019 3:38 pm

    Stacey, Iolani and St. Louis try to win at all costs. Since that’s the case, let them play each other every week for 17 weeks and let everybody else win honestly.


  6. Educated June 6, 2019 4:14 pm

    Jayme. St Louis and Iolani win cuz they’re discipline and have great athletes that want to attend these schools. Not to mention the fact that St Louis is in the Open Division and Iolani is D1 they are not the same caliber. Everybody does have a chance to win honestly…


  7. inter Alia June 6, 2019 5:09 pm

    Interesting comments about STL and Iolani but the purpose and focus of the GPA camp is education for all participants and their parents on NCAA requirements, academic eligibility, scholarships, financial aid, boarding and preparing our young players for college while emphasizing sportsmanship and personal responsibility. The GPA provides small schools Div II and Div III and junior colleges with a format to observe and recruit our Hawaii players regardless of whether they attend private school or public school.


  8. Jayme Wight June 6, 2019 9:02 pm

    Stacey,
    Yeah, that gives St. Louis and Cal Lee a great reason to walk all over public schools. What u gonna say next? Iolani get Rhodes Scholars so we should obey they every whim? May Lee and Coach Look get Bobby Bowden Syndrome. Iolani and St. Louis–partners in crime and greed.


  9. IRC 1099 June 7, 2019 12:14 am

    Didn’t Waipahu beat Iolani in the HHSAA semi-finals last year with their 19 year old DBs who both made first team All-State (Kahapea and Benjamin) but got zero scholarship offers because they were academic non-qualifiers? Hasn’t Kahuku, Mililani, Kapolei and Campbell poached top players from weaker OIA schools for decades? The OIA needs to stare into the mirror and enforce their own 2.0 rule, the age requirements and their transfer rules before they look to blame the ILH. Go Figure ???.


  10. ILH June 7, 2019 12:17 am

    The cry babies starting already, love them Crusaders and those Iolani Raiders, stop whinning and just enjoy how good these two teams are, SAINTS, SAINTS, SAINTS, GO SAINTS.


  11. D Reardon June 7, 2019 12:33 am

    The GPA camp was very organized this year as they made two key improvements: no hard helmets or shoulder pads thus no injuries (last year STL Sykes) and divided upperclassmen from underclassmen (1st group in classroom activities while the 2nd group performed on-field drills) which made it easier for recruiters to evaluate the players’ skills while giving players more reps. Congrats to Coach Rich Miano and all of the other dedicated Hawaii coaches and mainland recruiters. Mahalo.


  12. Matt Motter June 7, 2019 1:30 am

    ILH, are you fan of both Iolani and St. Louis? Or does your fandom also include Punahou and Kamehameha?


  13. Florida All State RB June 7, 2019 7:19 am

    Those that did not get an award keep working because I’ll take a quote from the Orlando Sentinel “someone always gets left out” for our all Orange County football team. Heck an all SEC 1st team nose guard only made Honorable Mention for the 6 county all Central Florida high school team team.He didn’t get discouraged.BTW he went to a public school just like 99.9% of the players So no matter what division you play whether Div. 1 or 2 if you play hard you’ll get noticed! Keanu good to see your pic., you got the size and such a great kid too so keep working.
    Great camp and good job to all the kids!


  14. ILH June 7, 2019 11:14 am

    IRC 1099-

    WOW. Sad to hear about those two Marauders, if true.
    Whats going on over there?
    Is the success on the field being matched with success in the classroom?


  15. justAsking June 7, 2019 2:15 pm

    Were the Waipahu boys allowed to participate in the regular season and the states being 19 years old. What is the age rule for this sport and is it being enforced.


  16. IRC 1099 June 8, 2019 7:55 am

    Not sure if either DB is going to play at a Juco but Waipahu’s VP was astounded at their Principal’s willingness to bend rules academically in order to get several players eligible during last season. One may recall that nearly 20 Waipahu players were ineligible at the start of last season. Need to review the “Self-Reporting” rule that seems to be an exception or condition precedent to the age requirement.


  17. Akamai Okole June 8, 2019 8:56 am

    Win at all costs? C’mon…

    Kids win because it’s more fun than losing!


  18. Pua Lane June 9, 2019 4:27 pm

    So how many offers were given out?


  19. !!! June 11, 2019 8:42 am

    ALL OF YOU

    PLEASE TELL ME WHO IOLANI HAS RECRUITED FROM AN OIA SCHOOL OR ANY OTHER SCHOOL THAT IS ON THE CURRENT ROSTER.

    and if you can’t? please stop stating that “Iolani recruits to win at all costs”. This is ridiculous. please relax and let the boys play.


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