Edward ‘Eddy’ Whaley, is a long way from home. The Leilehua senior grew up over 7,000 miles away in Copenhagen, Denmark. Soccer is the dominate sport in his home country, so he didn’t grow up with football like many of his teammates.
“Football is not popular over there. They had clubs but it was only 9-man, but over there it’s soccer. You play soccer down there,” Whaley told Cover2’s Alan Hoshida, “I fell in love with football over there and I was like, you know what I want to do something in my future with football. I thought why not move to Hawai’i because my dad is from here. I have family.”
Two years ago Eddy hit a cross roads after finishing high school in Denmark, either he could begin university or find a way to chase his dream of playing college football. He chose his dream and left home all by himself to play football in the Aloha State. His father, Edward Keiki Whaley, was not surprised.
“I was already and down for that when he said he wants to move to Hawai’i. I was like sure no problem. I called up my relatives and they were more than helpful to help him get a place, stay with my niece, and just open arms. That is the aloha spirit,” the elder Whaley said.
At 18-years-old, Eddy stands at 6-foot-two, 205 lbs. His blonde hair and blue eyes wouldn’t make anyone think ‘local boy,’ but his family is deeply rooted in Hawai’i. His grandfather is one of the original Waikiki Beach Boys, Edward ‘Blackout’ Whaley, his aunt, Momi, married Buffalo Keaulana, and his dad is a McKinley graduate by way of Mililani. Eddy is getting a first-hand education on what ‘ohana truly means.
“My dad always spoke highly of my grandpa. I pretty much knew about him, but as soon as I got down here I started to hear more stories from my family’s side. I heard a little bit more about my other family members that are famous. It’s a little weird feeling that you get because I wasn’t this connected to my family in Denmark. I had a little bit of family but over here I have so much and it’s so nice to meet all of them,” Eddy said.
Eddy has developed into one of the Mules’ best players and team leaders. It’s a remarkable feat since he’s only been playing the game for four years. He’s beginning to realize his dream of playing college football, but right now, his scholarship offers are all coming from smaller division that don’t offer athletic scholarships. Eddy is hoping he can still secure a division-one or two opportunity.
“I started playing when I was 14 and I didn’t know anything about football. I had to start from scratch. When I came over here, I saw the level that they played at and it’s so different than Denmark. Denmark is like not even JV at the varsity level, so I was so shocked how well they play over here in US and I just had to catch up. I’m grateful for these coaches for coaching me up and not I’m playing at the varsity level and starting.”
His two biggest fans back home have all the faith that this experience of betting on himself will pay off one way or another. His parents continue to support him from half way across the world.
“I miss him everyday and I like to talk to him everyday just to make sure he’s ok,” Eddy’s mother Elisabeth said, “I’m very proud of him that he experienced this to learn the Hawaiian culture because his father is from there and his family is over there. He really gets the best of both worlds.”
His dad Keiki added, “Son, do you man. Keep doing you and you’ll make it all the way. We have 100% belief and faith and we are totally proud of you. We love to see you in the NFL one day.”