“I’m in the ninth grade,” said Fiatoa. “I’m 15 years old right now, and I was at the All-American game in Texas. That’s when I was told that I had an offer from BYU. I was really excited and I was honored too. I’ve had family go to BYU like my uncle Kinglsey [Ah You], uncle Jray [Galeai], and my uncle Mark Atuaia. I wanted to keep BYU in the family.”
One of Fiatoa’s football coaches who just so happen to have played football at BYU gave him some sound advice if he truly had an offer.
“The other thing is one of my other coaches who went to BYU, Lani Fangupo, was telling me, ‘Man, you gotta commit,” said Fiatoa. “You gotta commit already.’ I was like, ‘Roger that!’”
When he returned home to Utah, Fiatoa wanted to find out for himself if he indeed had such an offer from BYU. So, he made a quick trip down to Provo to find out for certain if what he heard was indeed true.
“I was really surprised and really honored,” said Fiatoa. “I wanted to clear things up and make sure that I really had the offer, so I went down to BYU to make sure and talk to Coach Kalani (Sitake). He talked to me about making sure I have really good character, making sure that I honor my parents most of all, and keep my grades up. Once I got all that cleared up I committed right away.”
The 6-2, 205-pound freshman outside linebacker/defensive end, who will also be playing varsity next season for the Orem Tigers, is ecstatic about his future knowing he’ll one day wear the blue and white of BYU.
“Aw man, the fact that I even have the opportunity is just great,” Fiatoa said. “The reason my dad [Kaipo Fiatoa] trained me in football was to get that education. Now that I’ve made this commitment and life changing commitment, it’s just a great honor.”
From his old coaches at Laie Park, who taught him the game at an early age, to his grandparents who reinforced those values taught in the home, Fiatoa credits many for his early rise towards success.
“I also want to give thanks to my grandparents,” said Fiatoa. “I really want to thank my Fiatoa grandparents. I love them to death. They helped me to build my character and I owe so much to them.
“I also want to thank my old football team that I played for Laie Park. I want to thank them for everything. I thank God for the coaches that I had at Laie Park. I want to give thanks to Coach Aisa and Micah Wiley, Coach Lucas Matagi, and Wes Tufaga. I also want to give thanks to the late Feso “Juice” Malufau. He recently passed away and he taught me a lot of what I know today. I just can’t forget my roots in Laie.”
With three years of high school football left to play, Fiatoa, who was offered by Kalani Sitake during the eighth grade while Sitake was coaching at Oregon State, could receive other offers. The chances of that happening are very high, but despite that fact Fiatoa feels he’s found the perfect college fit in BYU.
“Oh yeah, I’m staying strong in my commitment to BYU,” Fiatoa said. “I would have to turn anyone down who came after me and offered. My commitment is strong for BYU. The family atmosphere they have there and my experience with them is incredible. Especially uncle Fui [Vakapuna] and the way he welcomed me. I have a special love for him and want to give a big shout out to him. He’s all about family.”
Former BYU running back Fui Vakapuna, who is now an assistant to BYU's athletic director, Tom Holmoe, made a significant impact on the heart of young Tausili Fiatoa. Vakapuna expressed the importance of perspective when it came to playing college football with a focus of graduating with a degree before anything else to Fiatoa.
“Fui [Vakapuna] was telling me that he wanted to go to the NFL and get thousands of rushing yards,” Fiatoa said. “He only had around four years and barely received any playing time. That was a real eye-opener for him. He had a wife and a family and kids and realized he had to go back to school to get his masters degree. I really admire Uncle Fui for that. He realized that the NFL was his dream but his dream was over. Now it was time to go back to school and face reality so he could provide for his family. I really admire that about Uncle Fui.
“I want to get that piece of paper before anything else. I want to get my degree before any other goals, whether it’s the NFL or anything else, to honor my family. I’m so grateful for that opportunity. Coach Kalani Sitake, when he was at OSU, offered me when I was in the eighth grade. That just really set the tone for me to work hard and open my eyes towards college.”