SALT LAKE CITY -- The All-Poly Foundation staged its inaugural Scholar Athlete Awards Banquet recently, and every high school senior of Polynesian descent who earned a 4-year college scholarship was honored.
The ceremony was a who's who of football here in Utah and included BYU Head Coach Kilani Sitake, BYU Offensive Coordinator Ty Detmer, and former Utah Coach Ron Mcbride.
Four time Super Bowl Champion Jesse Sapolu, who played for the San Francisco 49ers, was the keynote speaker. He is also the co-founder of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
“And I want to remind you that Polynesian is a proud community; we're about respect and humility,” Sapolu said.
The event honored the student athletes for their accomplishments in the classroom and stressed the importance of getting an education.
“For us, and, you know, being Polynesian as a coach, we want to help get these guys wherever they need to be, and whether it's with us or not, we just want to make sure they're excited to move on to the next level, furthering their education,” Sitake said.
Each student athlete was called up to the stage and given a plaque that certifies them as a scholar-athlete.
It was an impressive group when all were on stage, and they are all heading to college.
A lot of the athletes played against each other in high school, like Hunter High grad and BYU-bound Lorenzo Fauatea.
“We can go from being enemies on the field, but then off the field we're brothers," he said. "We love each other. That's just how it is. It's how we're raised. It's how we play."
Ismael Vaifo’ou of Highland High School agreed.
"I've seen them on the field, you know, but in the end, same culture, so we're all friends around here,” he said.
Vaifo’ou will serve a mission for the LDS Church before playing for Utah State.
The student athletes were treated to a prime rib dinner, and were also given hats and T-shirts.