Ben Moa's Not Chasing But Catching His Dreams

In 2012, Penaia Moa was on the road to fulfilling his dream of playing Division I college football. Grayshirting at San Diego State, the defensive tackle from Kearny High in San Diego, Calif., had nearly finished getting his academics in order to join the Aztec football team when, as often happens, life got in the way and derailed dreams. However, this isn't a story of what could have been...

During his time at SDSU, a family emergency pulled him away from his studies. It derailed his family from its path and forced Moa to find employment instead of attend school.

Two years later, Moa (who goes by Ben) finds himself a sophomore at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, Calif., once again working towards his dream. What happened in between is something the 6-foot-4, 290-pound terror of a defensive tackle is grateful he went through – and that his family was always there to support him.“

My mom got sick and she wasn’t able to work anymore,” Moa said. “We had to move in with our cousins. There were so many distractions and I ended up not attending classes. I had to help support our family. I was supposed to pass all my classes to actually be on the team. It didn’t happen.”

Moa’s younger brother David, currently a freshman at Boise State this season, also found himself in the work force after during that trying time.

A while later, when Moa was attending Grossmont CC, his little sister suffered a stroke stemming from a whiplash injury she sustained while playing at a local city park. The Moas kept pressing forward, determined to keep the family together.

“It was hard to concentrate on that, school and football at the same time,” Moa said. “I was always going to the hospital late at night after practice. David had to do the same thing.”

But Moa remained focused. He was spread thinner than he would have liked, but his eyes were set firmly on the prize. He kept attending his classes, playing football and, most importantly, being there for his family. Finally, in August of 2014, the Moas once again were able to get their own residence. Life was back to normal.

“(My mom) is fine now,” Moa said. “We moved out of our family’s house a couple of months ago. She’s back to work now and we’re doing really well.”

Suddenly, Moa found himself with all sorts of extra time. With his goal in mind, he spends it hitting the weights or the books.

“I’m more focused now,” Moa said. “The stress about my family is gone. I’m on my grind. Talking to my brother at Boise State motivates me to be better.”

His hard work paid off as Kansas State offered the talented defensive lineman in September, his first scholarship opportunity since 2012.

“Kansas State contacted me and said they have an offer for me. I was really excited,” Moa said. “Kansas State is a really good team. I knew they had interest in me, but I didn’t know they were going to offer.”

 The Blue and Orange Store

But Moa isn’t done. He has also been receiving interest from Cal, San Diego State and Boise State. While neither school has extended an offer as of yet, Moa is doing his best to in hopes of them pulling the trigger.

“I’m really interested in Boise State because my brother goes there,” he said. “Before I take my visit to Boise, I want to visit other schools. I will visit Kansas State for sure. Hopefully Boise State offers me.”

The Broncos are stacked at the defensive tackle position with Tyler Horn coming back for the 2015 season, and Moa knows that. He will continue to work toward an offer from the Broncos, but he is grateful for other options as well.

“Boise State is saying they want me to focus on school first,” Moa said. “The coaches said they don’t want to offer me and find out later that my grades aren’t good enough. They are going to wait. I don’t blame them. It’s a good thing.”

As Moa draws closer and closer to realizing his dream, and as he prepares to face Palomar Community College on Saturday, he keeps in mind those who struggled alongside him.

“It’s my family. They’ve been there to support me,” Moa said. “Whenever I feel like I’m slacking or not concentrating, I just think about how much they’ve sacrificed to get me to where I am. They do so much for me. I really like to play football and they help me have the opportunity.”

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