Galea'i Is Most Proud Of His Heritage

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex suburb of Euless and several other nearby communities have become home to a great number of people of Polynesian heritage. People of Samoan, Tongan and other Polynesian cultures have strengthened the community with their strong work ethic and prideful nature.

Their presence has had a very direct impact on several of the high school football programs, including Trinity High School in Euless, which has won the Texas Class 5A state championship in football three times in the last decade (2005, 2007, and 2009). They have become famous for performing the Haka prior to and after games.

A traditional dance of Maori warriors, the Haka, performed by the Trinity Trojans, has been featured on a Gatorade commercial and on television, including the NFL Network.

It is no surprise that Lemaefe Galea'i told me he is most proud of his cultural heritage.

"I have to say that I am very proud of my culture and where I came from," said Galea'I, who is known by many as Junior. "I am part Tongan, Samoan, and Maori. I'm a mix of all those cultures, so I can get along and appreciate everybody in the Polynesian community. I'm equal opportunity."

Galea'i likes the traditions included in his blend of cultures. He likes to perform the Haka, and he likes the respect shown by Polynesian people.

"The respect we have for each other," is something that Galea'i considers very important. "It is that respect we show each other, and especially the respect we show older people in our families and in our community. We respect everybody, and expect to receive that respect back."

In the football world, a strong, 6-5, 327-pound offensive linemen is going to get respect. If not, Galea'i is quite capable of commanding it. He graded 91 overall this season and had 79 knockdowns, and, as he corrected us, he did not give up a sack this season.

Oklahoma State has recruited other players of Polynesian descent in recent classes, and some of those very same reasons why Galea'i is so proud of his culture are some of the same reasons that head coach Mike Gundy and his staff enjoy having more players with that heritage in the Cowboys' football program.

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