It’s hard to find a more passionate family that bleeds blue than the Ika family right in the heart of the University of Utah’s backyard. Among the red of Salt Lake City, the Ika family and their relatives have held their allegiances to BYU. So, when Siake “Apu” Ika of the Ika family recently received an offer from the BYU Cougars, it was a dream come true for him and many in the Ika family.
“It was great kind of like a childhood dream come true,” said Ika. “My family is the biggest BYU fans ever, so to get an offer from BYU is one of the biggest things for me and my family. Whenever one of my family members, like my sister, goes to Utah everyone kind of shuns them.”
While attending BYU’s summer camp last week, Apu Ika went throughout the day’s drills like every other camp participant. Unassuming and unaware of the eyes that followed his every drill performance, Ika went about his day without expectation. A phone call to an East High coach turned an ordinary day into one of surprise and joy.
“It was pretty surprising,” Ika said. “I went through the normal day and just competed in the drills and everything. When we finished our last session of the camp, they sent all the boys to Seven Peaks. Me and a couple of the other boys were actually on our way back home.
“That’s when Ilaisa [Tuiaki] called one of the coaches I was with that coaches at East High School and told him to bring us to the stadium. Kalani pulled me and another one of my teammates, Junior Angilau, aside and talked to us. That’s when they said they really liked how we were looking out there at the camp and gave us both an offer.”
While touring LaVell Edwards Stadium, Ika received a scholarship offer from both Coach Sitake and Tuiaki. The experience left him speechless.
“It was crazy and it kind of felt unreal,” said Ika. “I’m still young and I grew up loving BYU, and here I am getting my first D1 scholarship offer from the Y. It’s just really, really amazing!
“I just finished my freshman year and I’m going to be a sophomore next year. I don’t really know what I did to get that offer. There were so many other boys competing there that I felt were better than me. I thought I performed really well and competed as hard as I could, but I felt there were other boys competing just as hard as me and were better than me. So, to get that offer from BYU was a blessing for me and I really don’t know what to say. I’m just really grateful.”
After receiving the offer, Ika’s uncle Pulu Otukolo spoke with Apu’s father Keila Ika, informing him that his son had just received an offer. A family conversation about committing to BYU was agreed upon.
“They actually offered me and then Coach Sitake and Coach Tuiaki kept talking to me and my teammate Junior [Angilau],” said Ika. “Afterwards, my uncle Pulu [Otukolo] actually called me and talked to my pops about it. I was going to go home and talk to my Pops about it but my uncle already talked to him about it. I was going to talk to my dad first about it, but my uncle already talked to him about it and said I could do whatever. Once I found out everyone was on the same page as me I committed.”
After Apu Ika found out he and his family were on the same page he let Coach Sitake and Tuiaki know that he was committing to BYU.
“They were happy and they were telling us that they really wanted us,” said Ika. “When I committed they started smiling. I was a little scared at first, but I told them, ‘I’m committing and I want to be a part of what’s happening here. I want to be at BYU.’ When I committed all my family texted me asking me if it was for real. All my cousins, siblings, and everyone was texting me. Everyone was happy and everyone was smiling. I’m speechless and it’s kind of crazy!”
BYU has offered four athletes from East High School. One is Sam Vakalahi, who plays offensive tackle, and the other is Paul Maile who also plays offensive tackle. Add Apu Ika, who plays defensive tackle, and Junior Angilau, who also plays D-tackle, to the list and East High School has some serious talent coming out in the next few years.
“We have Sam Vakalahi and Paul Maile who both have offers from BYU,” said Ika. “Junior Angilau is going to be a junior this year and I’m going to be a sophomore. Junior pretty much plays everything that the coaches want him to play. He plays a little bit of offensive line and d-line. He didn’t commit to BYU on the spot like I did. He wanted to go home and talk to his parents about it first. He really likes BYU and I think he’s going to commit.”
It will be a long time before BYU fans see Apu Ika dressed in blue and white. He still has three years of high school football left to play followed by an LDS mission.
“Yeah, I want to serve a mission after high school,” Ika said. “That’s really important to me. I know it’s going to be a while till I play at BYU, but I’m just grateful for the chance to be a Cougar and fulfill my dreams. I couldn’t be more excited for my future.”