Recently, former Weber State signee A.J. Lolohea, now a BYU commit, recently returned home from his two-year mission to the island kingdom of Tonga. Since then, his younger brother, Jordan Lolohea, has been hoping he could follow big brother’s path by one day also serving a mission to the islands of his forefathers.
“That’s what I’m trying to do,” said Jordan Lolohea. “I want to serve my mission in Tonga. My brother, A.J., served his mission in Tonga and he loved it. He calls Tonga home and tells me all kinds of stories and experiences he had over there. I would love to serve my mission in Tonga.”
Last weekend Jordan Lolohea took an official visit to BYU where he was able to connect with the coaches and get a feel for campus life.
“Yeah, it was a really good experience,” Lolohea said. “Kalani (Sitake) talked about a lot of stuff and I really love the environment over there. A lot of the players told me how it’s different now. They said it’s more of a family team, and that’s something that really caught my attention and changed my perspective of them.”
Lolohea took in the atmosphere and got to see how the players and coaches interact one with another. It was an eye-opening experience to see just how close and interactive the BYU staff was with the players. He saw the workings of his faith interwoven within the fabric of BYU.
“Yeah most definitely,” Lolohea said. “Kalani was telling me how when they would go take the recruits out for dinners it wouldn’t just be them. There would be players there too, and they would tell me how much of a blessing it was to go to a college that’s your same religion. They were telling me the differences and things like that.”
Lolohea has attended home games at BYU several times and every time he’s come away impressed with the atmosphere of game day at LES.
“I’ve been to BYU before and have been to a couple of home games,” said Lolohea. “It’s always a fun time being there. Seeing the fans and the crowd is an amazing experience.”
The cheering crowds, the exciting pageantry, and game day flair in full bloom, Lolohea got a chance to see and feel the energy at LES during unofficial visits. So, how is it possible that the Cougar staff could top a home game experience for an official visit?
“We had a couple of activities and we had a good time and hung out with some of the players,” Lolohea said. “We had a good time. I really just comes back down to the basics. It comes back to the players and the coaches and how they really feel it’s the college for them and how BYU is different on a personal level than any other college. Things like how they prepare for games, or how they prepare during the week. It’s really different and I feel BYU would be a good fit for me. Going there and seeing and hearing all that stuff really makes BYU a good fit for me.”
In short, the difference is Lolohea got to see behind all the glitter and gold to what really makes BYU a special place for LDS athletes. What it comes down to is what’s really important rather than an elaborate show with no real substance or personal advantages.
“You know, Kalani always told me that he would always take care of his players first,” Lolohea said. “The players are the priority. When I talk to the players they tell me that Kalani takes care of them no matter what. Being around the team and the coaches I can really see that.
“I could see how comfortable they were being around the coaches and how their relationships were. Having things in common with the players in the locker room and the coaches can really be an advantage in helping you in college.”
The focus and culture of BYU places an emphasis on academic, spiritual, and personal growth.
“Coach (Ilaisa) Tuiaki is my primary recruiter,” said Lolohea. “He doesn’t really talk to me like a coach. He talks to me more like family, but when he needs to say some stuff we really get down to it. He’s a great guy.”
“Yeah, yeah, he’ll twist my arm here and there,” Lolohea said. “He doesn’t do it a lot and knows it’s my decision. I guess you can say he’s just trying to look out after me because he feels BYU would be the best place for me and my future.”
Jordan and his older brother A.J. played together for a season while attending West High School. Jordan transferred after his junior year to East, but the thought of playing with his big brother once again has crossed Jordan’s mind.
“Yeah, it was a good experience having him there with me at West because he looked after me,” said Jordan Lolohea. “I know it was good for him too having me there. I had my thoughts of playing with him again and how cool that would be.”
Having experienced BYU, Jordan Lolohea will visit Washington then attend the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii. After that he’ll take an official visit to Utah and then make a final decision on where he’ll play his college ball. As far as BYU goes, Lolohea gave his official visit outstanding marks the rest will have to live up to.
“If I were to rate my experience at BYU I think it would be a 10,” Lolohea said. “It was a really good experience. Yeah, I loved it.”