The Hawai’i High School Athletic Association inducted the 2019 Class of Inductees into the Enterprise Rent-a-Car/HHSAA Hall of Honor on Sunday night at the HHSAA Awards Banquet at Dole Cannery’s Pomaika’i Ballroom.
As part of the festivities was 2009 inductee, Punahou graduate and former Heisman Trophy finalist, linebacker Manti Te’o serving as the keynote speaker.
Te’o, who is currently a free-agent after six years in the NFL with the Chargers and Saints said it was an honor to return to meet and interact with the latest student athletes to etch their name into the Hawaii history books.
“When I look back on it and it’s been ten years already, when I look out into the crowd today and I see those student athletes, just to imagine that was me ten years ago and to just know what they’re going to go through. The growing pains, the joy, the challenges and stuff like that,” said Te’o.
After winning a state title with Punahou, Teo played collegiately at Notre Dame where he would go on to finish second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2012, winning the Maxwell Award, Lott Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Walter Camp Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, and earning Unanimous All-American in what was at the time the most decorated single season in college football history.
Te’o was drafted by the Chargers in 2013 and spent his first four seasons in San Diego, before signing as a free-agent with the Saints in 2017.
“We stand in the shoulders of giants and I wouldn’t be where I am if had it not been for Jesse Sapolu, Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, guys like that. Aaron Francisco, Leonard Peters, guys that paved the way for me and all I did was I took it a step further and then Marcus (Mariota) grabbed the baton and took it. Tua (Tagovailoa) is now running with it,” said Te’o.
“What I am most happy about is the hope that we instill with the younger generation and that’s something that I hope continues, because as long as they believe and our young people have that hope, they can achieve anything.”
Te’o is currently unsigned but remains working out for a potential shot with another team. However, he is very active in ventures in the business world which includes real estate in San Diego.
2019 HHSAA HALL OF HONOR INDUCTEES
Naighel Calderon, Lanai (baseball, basketball, football)
Duke Clemens, Punahou (baseball, basketball, football)
Kelani Corbett, Leilehua (judo, wrestling)
Kiran Costa, Kapaa (football, soccer, volleyball)
Sunshine Fontes, Pearl City (soccer)
Dillon Gabriel, Mililani (football)
Ashley Gooman, KS-Kapalama (wrestling)
Mikayla Kekoa, Kohala (basketball, softball, volleyball)
Kameron Ng, St. Francis (basketball, volleyball)
Kalina Obrey, KS-Kapalama (basketball, volleyball)
Faatui Tuitele, St. Louis (football)
Noah Wusstig, Moanalua (judo, wrestling)
The 12 outstanding senior student-athletes were selected by a 13-person committee of current and former sports reporters, athletic directors and coaches from around the state. The criteria is based mainly on athletic achievement but character, sportsmanship, academic record and community service also are taken into consideration.
Each inductee also will be awarded a $2,000 scholarship courtesy of the HHSAA and Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car brands.
The Hall of Honor program has been recognizing the top 12 Hawai’i senior student-athletes each year since 1983.