Domena finds faith and football

The journey has begun for young Roosevelt High School (Oregon) quarterback Kimane Domena. Recently, the young man weathered some personal family trials that led him to a new faith. Recently, another door opened, giving him a new vision of what the future may hold.

Not many know about 6-foot-2-inch, 183-pound sophomore quarterback Kimane Domena, but it's only a matter of time before they do.

"This year I played safety, like, two games," Domena said. "I mostly played quarterback this year though and really improved on that. I also really worked on improving my leadership skills and improving on important things like character.

"I've been in the workroom working on plays on the white board with our offensive coordinator. This past year as a sophomore playing on varsity, I think I did pretty well for myself. Now I just need to keep working hard, get bigger and continue to develop my abilities as a football player for next year."

Last week, while in the office of his head coach Christian Swain, Domena received a verbal offer while on the phone with BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

"I got [verbally] offered last week from Coach Mendenhall of BYU," said Domena. "I am a member of the LDS faith, so BYU would be a good school for me to go to both school-wise and faith-wise. They offered me a scholarship and I absolutely appreciate it. Coach Mendenhall told me that there are a lot of rules at BYU that I can follow, and if I can follow those rules, then he would be happy for me to join his team."

Last year his family struggled through some trials, leading to a major change in Domena's life.

"I went to a Christian church with my mom last year, but we weren't doing so well as a family. We were having a lot of problems," Domena said. "So, I went and lived with my other family because of all the problems we were having. It was a tough situation for me."

The Ita family, a Tongan family that happens to belong to the LDS faith, took Domena into their home.

"They shared the gospel with me and bore their testimonies to me as a family," Domena said. "It just got my attention more than any other church before. I just got a feeling that I needed to go to church and started going to church with them. I just had a feeling that I wanted to be affiliated with the Church, so I was baptized later and have been going to church ever since. The Church is true."

Since that time, Domena has lived with another family.

"I live with my coach, Coach Swain, right now," Domena said. "He's our head coach and he said he was proud of me. He also told me that there's a long road ahead of me and he wants me to stay humble and keep working hard to be the best young man I can be."

"You know, I was talking to Kimane and he was having some problems with his family," said Coach Swain. "One thing I've tried to teach him was that people respect you so much more when you own your mistakes and you come back and make it right. I think Coach Mendenhall has a great sense for that and we had a really good talk. People root for you and he is doing well in school right now and making much better decisions."

It was Coach Swain who alerted BYU to the talents of Domena.

"Coach Swain, our head coach, he works hard and had been sending out film to schools all over the country," said Domena. "BYU was one of the first schools to respond. They wanted to come in and speak to our coach, so when they came down to speak to him I was able to meet with them in his office before any other school responded. They talked to me about the process and let me know how things work before any other school did. Then I called up Coach Mendenhall on the phone to talk to him and that's when I was offered.

"Coach Mendenhall also told me that he didn't want me to commit or make any decisions until I come down to their campus. He told me that he was going to hold it until I went down and visited the campus to see what it's like. I know it's kind of unusual for them to offer scholarships to sophomores at this time. Coach Mendenhall told me that I couldn't sign or anything now, but that they can give me a verbal offer."

When Coach Swain first came to Roosevelt High School, the school and football program were in shambles. In fact the downtrodden program that Coach Swain was trying to rebuild was featured in ESPN's Outside The Lines on December 25, 2009.

"We were featured on ESPN's Outside The Lines because this school was just a mess," said Coach Swain. "I got a call from Neil Lomax, who is a legend in this area because of what he did at the college level, who told me, ‘Christian, God wanted me to help you coach here at Roosevelt.' I was like, ‘Okay.'"

Neil Lomax was a second-round NFL draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1981. During his nine-year NFL career, he was selected for the Pro Bowl in 1984 and 1987. He is now Roosevelt High School's quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, and is charged with developing Domena's talents.

"I was talking to Coach Lomax the other day and we really see Kimane with the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks to come out of the state of Oregon," said Coach Swain. "He's really intelligent and just naturally kind of understands space, so he's really picked up route concepts quickly and a lot of kids don't. He has a ton of athleticism and his arm strength is getting better and better. We think he has the potential to be the best quarterback to ever come out of this area."

Swain and Lomax don't just want Domena to beat teams with his athleticism, but with his head as well.

"I was talking to Coach Lomax and he said he's a dual-threat quarterback now, but we want to make Kimane a triple threat," Coach Swain said. "We want him to beat you with his head, and that is a character development thing and a leadership development thing. Those are some of the things that we are focusing on with him right now to focus on improving his I.Q., as well as having strong character. We think he could be as good as anyone who's come through here."

Although young, Domena has the athleticism to play multiple positions.

"He absolutely could play different positions," said Coach Swain. "One thing I told Kimane was he didn't have to worry about what position he could play, because he could be a free safety or a wide receiver. For him, we want him to have the attitude of being thankful and humble that people think he has the potential to play college football. He needs to have the attributes and disposition that he can go in and play whatever position they need him to play to help the team. That's a decision that will be needed to be made at some point, but he is a versatile kid that can do a lot of different things.

"It's just way too early to tell. Coach Lomax firmly believes he's going to end up being a quarterback, and not only is he going to be a quarterback, but one of the best dual-threat guys in the country. Coach Lomax has a pretty good eye for that kind of stuff. He played in the NFL for 10 years, so I kind of default to what he thinks and he's been around some of the best of the best and believes Kimane's future is at quarterback."

Apparently, BYU's coaching staff saw Domena as an athlete with the potential to do various things on the field, and, according to Coach Swain, that has led to a little Cougar staff tug-of-war for his services.

"Originally, I think BYU saw Kimane as a defensive back, which was great for us," said Coach Swain. "As they've watched film on him this year now, what Coach Poppinga jokingly said was now the offensive and defensive coaches are fighting over him. That's why Coach Doman wanted to come and talk to me about him as well, so we'll see."

"I'm very excited and grateful that BYU has taken an interest in me," said Domena. "Their defensive back coach wants me as a DB and their offensive coordinator wants me as a quarterback. I told them wherever the team needs me I'll play and that won't be a problem."

Domena plans on visiting BYU several months from now.

"I'm going down there in the spring for a camp," said Domena. "I'm excited to see what BYU is like. Right now, BYU is in front for me because of my faith. Coach Poppinga told me that they won't be able to talk to me that much, but I can contact them, and I've been in contact with them.

"He seems like a really good guy. BYU is a school that I'm very interested in because of my religion, and because I think that school will help me to become a better person. I feel the environment will help me grow as a young man and help me to become more mature. I know it's important to make the right decisions and be influenced in the right way and BYU would do that for me."

And so the journey begins.

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