04 August 2009

Polynesian Athletes Prepare for Football Training Camp in Arizona


Who would have thought that in the middle of the Arizona Desert at the peak of the summer heat (116 degrees) you would find Polynesian Football Players running drills, flipping tractor tires, dragging sleds, lifting weights all for the preparation of training camp? Numerous NFL, Collegiate and High School Polynesian football players have dedicated their off-season to travel to Arizona and train with strength & conditioning coach Chad Ikei at the Ikei Performance Training Center in Scottsdale. It is here that these young men learn what it takes to become a champion.

“Being born and raised in Hawaii and understanding the island culture allows me to help inspire these young men to excel in their sport and learn the life skills necessary to be successful in the competitive world” states Chad Ikei who back in 1991 left Hawaii to pursue his Weightlifting career at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. “We have some of the most talented athletes coming out of the islands or living on the mainland, but many of them are not exposed to the type of training and work intensity that we provide for them at our training center. The time we get to spend with these athletes allow us to teach them how to improve their chances of getting to the next level.”

Through the years many Polynesians have made it to the NFL but they have also had the reputation of being “lazy.” “I hear it a lot of times from coaches or teammates,” remarks Ikei about the reputation of Polynesian Athletes being lazy. “It’s not that they are lazy, most of them will work extremely hard when taught how to work. Sometimes their easy going personalities can come across as “laid-back” or mistaken for being lazy. But all my Polynesian Athletes that I have trained have excelled in the program and exceeded many expectations. To me it’s a lot about understanding the culture, the individual and being able to build a relationship with each athlete so they understand how to accept and embrace success.”

The Polynesian people are very strong in their culture yet extremely humble. This sometimes affects a young athlete when faced with moving away from home and competing for a spot on the team. “I have heard of many stories where a young Polynesian athlete heads off to college only to return home due to being homesick or culture shock” states Ikei. “No matter how much talent an athlete has, if they are not mentally and emotionally prepared they can only expect sub-par performances. Sometimes the lack of preparation results in some of the best “potential” football players to leave the game whether it’s voluntary or involuntary. This breaks my heart because many of these athletes have not been taught how to mentally and emotionally prepare for the changes. I’ve been there and experienced the emotional stress of being away from home, but I also am a product of discipline, sacrifice and hard work. I made it through the struggles successfully and use that experience to inspire other athletes to do the same. I know what it takes to compete at the highest level. Therefore, I don’t let any of my athletes slack off or make excuses. Excuses aren’t tolerated, they either want it or not. In the end it’s their choice but I’m here for them and do my best to inspire them to make quality choices in life.”

This is why coach Ikei has open his doors to his home in Scottsdale, AZ where he houses and feeds many of his Polynesian athletes. “We had 15 people staying at our house this summer, not including our 5 children that’s 22 people in our home…you know the size of these Poly boys, they aren’t small like me” chuckles Ikei. “But that’s how we do it and that’s who we are. All the athletes have the understanding that we are all one big Ohana (family) and everyone is welcome to stay. It keeps them humble and appreciative of the opportunity they have. This is a learning experience that I hope will change their lives for the better and something they carry with them, so one day they will be able to pay it forward to another young athlete that needs help or inspiration. There’s no shame in sleeping on the floor.” According to Ikei every athlete has to earn their position in the household in order to move up, “the boys need to pay their dues, if you have seniority with Ikei Performance then you are granted a room and a bed, if you are new and a youngster then you start on the floor. Sooner or later a veteran will depart and vacancies open on the couch or futon. But no matter what status each athlete is they all take part in cleaning duties.” Ikei insists that every single one of his the athletes that lives with him be treated like family, “I have all the boys do chores around the house and gym. No matter if you’re in High School, College or NFL it’s our rules and everyone respects and understands our culture. Even NFL Fullback Reagan Mauia comes to stay with us during the off-season and always helps with the chores. My wife and I also have 5 children so all the Uncles at one point or another will baby sit for us too. It’s a great way for us to show how much we love and trust these boys and how much we want them to be successful. When you build and establish a bond with them they open their hearts to everything you teach them and this is what makes a difference in their lives. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives and will always do what’s best for each and every one of them.”

Testaments of Ikei’s efforts and results are endless but in a recent email from the parents of a University of Hawaii Defensive Tackle say it all:

“I wish I could express just how grateful we are to you for taking our son under your wings and sincerely caring for him. We can feel his pride in his voice on the hard work he put in under your wings in teaching him not only the conditioning and diet program, but giving him the will to see these last 3 weeks through. It wasn't easy for him to make it up there however, he was determined to get there and put his whole heart and being there. I'm sure you know how devastated any athlete can become when injury occurs and for him, it’s been a long year...but, he looks like a totally different person and you have instilled his burning desire to become all that he can...and then some. Thank you so very much for being his trainer,...his family away from home…only your deep love from your heart can help the hundreds that you have helped...and we are so very grateful and appreciative....for being there when he needed it the most. Please extend our thank you for Mrs. Ikei as well....again, thank you for caring...” Chicki and Rocky (his dad) Savaiigaea

Here’s a list of Polynesian Athletes that made it to the NFL that have come through Ikei Performance:

Aaron Francisco – S, Kahuku High, BYU, Arizona Cardinals
Al Afalava – S, Kahuku High, Oregon State, Chicago Bears
Brennan Carvalho – C, Kamehameha, Portland State, Green Bay Packers
Brian Soi – DT, Timpview High, Utah State, Miami Dolphins
Bristol Olomua – TE, Red Mountain High, Texas Tech, Cincinnati Bengals
Caleb Spencer – WR, Kamehameha, Nevada, Washington Redskins
Cameron Stephenson – OG, Hawthorne High, Rutgers, Jacksonville Jaguars
Joe Tuipala – LB, Burroughs High, San Diego State, Jacksonville Jaguars
JT Mapu – DT, Kahuku High, Tennessee, Washington Redskins
Karl Noa – DE, Kamehameha, Hawaii, New York Jets
Naufahu Tahi – FB, Granger High, BYU, Minnesota Vikings
Patrick Scwhenke – OG/OT, Taylorsville High, West Texas A&M, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reagan Mauia – FB, Tokay High, Hawaii, Arizona Cardinals
Taitusi “Deuce” Lutui – OG, Mesa High, USC, Arizona Cardinals
Tala Esera – OG, Kahuku High, Hawaii, Philadelphia Eagles
Timmy Chang – QB, St. Louis High, Hawaii, Hamilton Tiger Cats
Vaka Manupuna – DT, St. Louis High, Colorado, Washington Redskins

Other Notable Former Collegiate Players:
Francis Maka – DE, Bellermine College Prep, Hawaii
Jeremy Perry – OG, Kahuku High, Oregon State
Travis Tofi – DT, Fagaitua High, USC

Each year numerous collegiate and high school athletes will travel from across the country to train with Chad Ikei and his team of professionals.

Exceeding Expectations
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Interested in learning more about our training program visit www.ikeiperformance.com or contact our office at 480.657.6937, email: info@ikeiperformance.com to arrange a tour of our facility.

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