Singing, dancing and leading ‘Iolani’s trench men: Raynne Passi

Coach Wendell Look leans on center Raynne Passi as one of the team's leaders in 2021. Photo by Craig Kojima/ckojima@staradvertiser.com

In the present world, Raynne Passi is the center for the ‘Iolani football team, one of the few experienced protectors in the trenches for the defending ILH Division I champion.

In the future world, the leader of the Raider trench men plays college football, gets his degree and plays the role of Maui in a stage production of “Moana.” Why not?

“I’m interested in the Disney musicals, hopefully, ‘Moana.’ I would definitely be up for that,” said Passi, who is featured in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.


Passi hasn’t been on stage since freshman year. In sixth grade, his first year at ‘Iolani, he was Pumba in “The Lion King,” which played at Mamiya Theater on the Saint Louis campus. He hasn’t taken a class since, but maybe some day, he’ll find himself auditioning for the role of Maui.

At 5 feet, 11 inches and 225 pounds, Passi isn’t a behemoth in the trenches, but he would probably tower over Moana and the other characters.

“I know all the songs. Maui has one song that he sings by himself. I haven’t sung it in awhile, but I think I can get it back,” Passi said.

He still enjoys dancing. On campus. In the locker room. On TikTok.

“I’ve heard him sing. Not bad. If he was Maui, I think he would do pretty good. His personality. He’s just… big,” offensive lineman Tristan Kim said. “He dances all the time. To be honest, I don’t really know, but it’s kind of freestyle. He has his own style.”

On the field, ‘Iolani is off to a strong start after a 28-0 win over Damien last weekend. This week, the Raiders host Pac-Five. They’re relying on the ground game and the blocking of Passi and his cohorts. In 75 snaps on offense, ‘Iolani ran the ball 46 times, or 61 percent of the time.

Between football and volleyball — he is an outside hitter and opposite — his summers, falls and springs are busy enough. Life is good of the youngest of the Passi siblings. Oldest brother Starr (Saint Louis football), sister Taimane (‘Iolani volleyball) and brothers Skky (football, volleyball) and Stormm (football, basketball, volleyball) set the path.

Life has been quite busy for the Passi ohana over the years. From left: Starr (brother), Marena (sister-in-law), Laselle (brother-in-law), Taimane (sister), Raynne, Maria (mother), Phillip (father), Stormm (brother) and Skky (brother). Photo courtesy of Raynne Passi.

“They definitely feel like I’m the most spoiled in the family,” said Passi, the youngest. “We live in a new generation so things are different, the lifestyle and stuff. We didn’t start off with a lot of money. A lot of my siblings finished college so they’re helping my parents. It’s easier for me now.”

The roles have reversed for Passi on the football field, where he was once a young sophomore in the starting lineup.

The O-line includes Kim (5-9, 180) at left tackle, sophomore Brodie Iwasaki (5-4, 195) at left guard, junior Caden Kaneshiro (5-9, 190) at right guard and junior Luke Ravizza (6-0, 175) at right tackle. Because of the cancellation of ILH football last year due to the pandemic, this season is a fresh experience in varsity for the underclassmen.

“They were on intermediate in 2019,” Passi noted.

Coach Wendell Look, Passi said, is more patient with such a young group in ’21.

“His coaching style is still the same, but I can say he’s taken a little pressure off us because of our young guys. They don’t really know how games and practices go, so it’s a little slower paced,” Passi said.

Look doesn’t have to say a lot to get his alpha man going in the trenches.

“Raynne was elected one of the team captains by his peers,” Look said. “The team needs him, along with the other captains and seniors, to be an example of what it takes to be a Raider football player, always doing things the Raider way on and off the field. Being selfless, humble. They need to develop their own personality and character for this team, develop, create and instill the right chemistry to create ownership of this team.”

Passi laments the loss of the ’20 season, particularly for the senior class. Time is short in his perspective.

“We just need to keep working. We’re a small team. We don’t have much numbers or size, but playing at ‘Iolani is a privilege. For the inexperienced guys, go out there and have fun. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “One thing coach Look says the most is being grateful for the opportunity to play football, especially for ‘Iolani, don’t take anything for granted. All of this could be taken away in an instant.”

Rayne Passi’s Lockdown Staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “Stomp The Yard”

“I’m a dancer. The main character, he does this move and it’s pretty sick. I dance at school all the time. My friends get sick of it. There’s ballet and stuff, but there’s no hip hop. I have TikTok with videos of me dancing.” (Braddah_Raynneee)


2. “The Lion King”

“The OG one is the best because I grew up watching that as a kid. I actually did a musical theater performance of ‘Lion King’ at Mamiya Theater. This is when I was in sixth grade. I had to sing and dance. I did two more after that. ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and I forgot the last one. I did kind of lose interest, wanted to try new things, but I still love to act and dance.”

My oldest brother, Starr, was into videography and stuff, making videos of us dancing. I’d probably say popping because it looks cool, I guess.

3. “Central Intelligence”

“It’s a movie with Kevin Hart and The Rock.”

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Zippy’s chili moco.

“It’s like a loco moco, but instead of gravy, it’s chili. I don’t like the beans. But there’s the hamburger and egg.”

2. Pink lemonade, CPK or Zippy’s.

3. Fried chicken

“My dad (Phillip) makes good fried chicken. He makes it every Sunday.

4. Hamburger spaghetti.

“If my mom (Maria)’s cooking, I’ll stay home and eat. I’ll probably miss that the most. I try to cook sometimes. If I’m not tired, I’ll help out. I try to act like I know what I’m doing, but I don’t. I do like to grill steak, hamburgers, chicken.”

Top 3 music artists

1. Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy”

2. Fiji – “Come on Over”

3. UB40 – “Red Red Wine”

GPA: 3.1

New life skill:

“I didn’t really learn any new skills, but I’ve improved on decision making, making the right choices. Making calls quickly as a center, on the spot.”


Shout outs

“First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for watching over me. My family and mom for pushing me in sports to get better. My boys on the football team, it’s not easy coming out to play, especially at ‘Iolani. Nobody wants to play football. There are guys who left. They played before, but they don’t play now. They’re focusing on other sports.”

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