Despite thousands of miles, football keeps Punahou’s Terrell close to deployed father

For Life

Punahou’s first-year co-offensive coordinator Robby Toma entered the season preaching getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers.

That’s been largely successful so far.

Punahou’s offense has never scored fewer than 28 points, and the playmaker who has touched the ball the most is Vincent Terrell, a junior running back who has a special bond with his father.

“It was weird not having my dad there. It was a little weird not having him see my first high school touchdown,” he said.

Terrell isn’t the biggest guy on the field. In fact, at 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, he’s often the smallest player between the lines on a fall Friday night in Honolulu.

But he can run.

“I wish he was taller and bigger, but he makes up for that with his knowledge of the game and his toughness and his speed,” said Punahou football head coach Kale Ane.

The Darren Sproles of Hawaii football had his dad as his first ever coach.

“He was always the toughest on me no matter what, and I don’t know, that kind of helped me. He taught me that no coach is ever going to be easier on you. If he’s a good coach, he won’t be easy on you, because he always wants to see you be great,” Terrell said. “Some kids get thrown off by yelling, but I don’t know. Sometimes it actually helps me. It reminds me, hey, get it together.”

Lt. Col. Vincent Terrell Sr. was deployed to Alaska the summer before Terrell’s freshman year. Dad has only been in the bleachers for three of his son’s high school football games.

“I’m trying to make sure I make him proud, while he’s making sacrifices up there. Because he didn’t have to go there, but for me to stay at this school, he would have had to,” Terrell said.

That summer from eighth to ninth grade was tough for Terrell. He lost his cousin to an accident, but football was still there.

“My coach, he really helped me through it, because at practices, I would be out of it. He would be like, ‘You’ve got to set that aside for right now. Do what you enjoy.’ I really love the game. It gives me hope and happiness,” Terrell said.

Terrell has been the man of the house for a couple years now.

“It was kind of like a shock. I realized that I had to take over, that I had to do things he had to do, and it kind of gave me a better perspective of what I put my dad through,” Terrell said.

Father and son still find time for each other. They call and text, and the family reunites in Anchorage in the summers, where Terrell does two a days to keep improving his football shape.

The game is often the topic of conversation.

“I don’t know, football is like our main stream,” Terrell said. “I’m not a very serious person. I like to have fun, you know, I like to goof around, but it kind of gives us a meeting point where we can be serious, but we can also be fun, joke around.”

A profound example of sports bringing a family closer together.

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