From Centennial High School in Corona, California, Seleti Fevaleaki came to BYU on his official visit and got scared. No, he wasn’t afraid of the honor code or a strict coach with an overpowering presence. It was simply the snowmobiles.
“The official visit was fun,” said Fevaleaki. “I got to go snowmobiling for the first time and it was both fun and scary. I would go five miles per hour and the recruits behind me were making fun of me every time we made a stop. They would tell me how I drive so slowly, but I just replied back what my mom always says, ‘Better safe than sorry.’ After they had made fun of me, I was going as fast as they were. However, throughout the whole time of snowmobiling I was the only recruit that did not crashed or got stuck. So, I was proud of that.”
However, not everything was scary for the 6-2, 250-pound defensive tackle used to taking on big, ugly offensive lineman.
“We also went into it this activity where we were in this wrap around ball thing, and we would run into each other,” said Fevaleaki. “It was fun because the wrap around ball protected us so we didn’t get hurt. It was so tiring! It was also my first time doing that so it was a lot of fun! Another thing that we did is we went to Topgolf and that was pretty fun. We had the chicken wings there and they were so bomb!”
While on campus Fevaleaki and the rest of the recruits were able to speak with Kalani Sitake on a more personal level. He listened carefully to Coach Sitake’s testimony and noticed there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“Also we got to talk to the coaches, especially to Kalani, before we left,” Fevaleaki recalled. “It was the most spiritual meeting ever. My family was crying and Kalani's dad [Tom Sitake] was crying. Kalani was crying, I was crying, and we were all crying. Not because we felt like BYU was the place to be, but because we knew that BYU was the place to be.”
Fevaleaki knows BYU’s head coach will always have his interest in mind both on and off the field and long after his makes his last tackle as a Cougar.
“The reason why I want to sign with BYU, and why I’m happy to play on BYU’s defense, is because Kalani will have my back. He won’t just have my back only, but the D-line coach [Steve Kaufusi] and all the other coaches there at BYU's will be there for me. So that is why I want to play there because it's not just a brotherhood, it's also a family.”
Fevaleaki has waited a long time to represent a major division one university. Today he’s made it official and talks about why he decided to sign with BYU.
“The reason why I want to sign at BYU is because of the kind of people that are there getting an education and in the football program,” he said. “We are all family. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are we are family, which leads to another thing. People often think BYU fans are only from Utah, but that is not true. There are fans all over the world. There are fans in Africa, in England, in Asia, and in Europe. They are all over the world!”
Fevaleaki feels BYU isn’t just any college. It’s a special place that will encourage one to be better in every aspect of their lives once they leave.
“BYU is not just a normal or ordinary school. It has principles that you must keep in order to be able to attend BYU. That will not only keep you physically, mentally, and morally straight, but it also strengthens you spiritually too.”
From players currently within the program to the surrounding communities that love and support BYU, Fevaleaki loves how everyone is tied together in commonality regardless of where that community may reside.
“What makes BYU a different place than other colleges that offered me is, like I said earlier, the community,” Fevaleaki said. “BYU's community is all over the world and not only in Utah.”
Also the honor code makes BYU a special place in the eyes of Fevaleaki.
“What makes BYU a special place is the moral standards they have that other college do not have, “he said. “There are so many distractions that can take away your focus on your future goal. For example, like partying and staying up too late drinking alcohol and other stuff can lead you away from the main purpose as to why you came to college. There is also the quality education that can help you get a job so you can provide for your family.”
Then there are the coaches on staff. The religious and cultural aspects that flow through the fabric of BYU’s coaching staff lends real understanding.
“What I like about BYU's coaches are that they’re great men, coaches, and mentors, “said Fevaleaki. “They know how the players think. They're like our older brothers that we have to look up to and our fathers that we turn to. What makes BYU coaches so great is they are able to take their time in trying to help the players in what they need.
“I know a lot of coaches in colleges do that for their players, but not like BYU’s head coach Kalani Sitake. He really understands the players and the circumstances they face. He is there when you are at your lowest, and he is there when you need someone to turn to. He is not only a head coach but a father to the players and that goes for all the coaches on his staff.”
When he finally suits up in the blue and white of BYU, Fevaleaki, is most excited about representing BYU.
“What I’m mostly looking forward to when I finally attend BYU is helping out the community all over the world see the potential I see in BYU,” said Fevaleaki. “I'm looking forward to all the fans out there who are struggling, but they are strong in being a cougar. I am also looking forward to playing on the football field and knowing there will be fans all over the world.”