OSU Enjoys Recruiting Polynesian Players

Ofa Hautau is not the first player from one of the proud Polynesian cultures and islands to wear the Cowboys colors. Tonga Tea and Tolu Moala, who now work in the Oklahoma State football office, played defense for coach Mike Gundy’s teams and the current roster includes players Vili Leveni and Lemeafe Galea’I.

Another name will soon be added to that list: Tyler Junior College defensive lineman Motekiai Maile.

“I am looking forward to getting to Oklahoma State,” Maile said after a recent win with Tyler. “I saw [defensive line coach Joe Bob] Clements at my game against [Northeastern Oklahoma A&M], and I didn’t get to talk to him, but I am looking forward to playing for him.”

Maile was recruited by Oklahoma State throughout the spring before making his pledge in June. He is another example of what attracts Gundy and the Oklahoma State program to players with Polynesian roots.

“Family is my brothers," Maile said. "Family is everything to me and to be able to support my family -- and that is what I am doing here -- I have two years to shape my life and help support my family."

Beni Tonga, a player development specialist for the Oklahoma State program, has great insight into the beliefs of players whose families originate from the Pacific Rim islands. Family is first and the men are raised to be tough.

“That’s the same in almost any Polynesian family with the boys kind of raised to be tough,” Tonga explained. “That goes back to the reason as to why the parents left the island was to find a better future for their children and even though Ofa [Hautau] is going far away, and that is away from family, he has the chance for a better life. His family could have stayed in Tonga and had a better life than they are having here, but it will be better for their children.”

Gundy, who preaches accountability and respect with his players, has always said the true goals for his roster of players is to develop them to be good husbands, good fathers, and good contributing members of society. The basic beliefs and culture that players from Polynesian families bring with them make them good investments to reach the goals Gundy has for his players on and off the field.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS STORY APPEARS IN THE WINTER 2014 ISSUE OF GOPOKES MAGAZINE

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