On Wednesday, senior prep athletes across Hawaii put the finishing touches on their college commitments, signing letters of intent to compete athletically for their respective schools.
Campbell’s Blaine Hipa was the rare exception. Despite committing to Princeton, he still has to go through the admissions process, as is the case with every Ivy League school.
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For Hipa, there was still plenty of reason to celebrate on Wednesday. Barring a blip in the admissions process, Hipa has secured a spot on Princeton’s football team, choosing to play for the Tigers after earning scholarship offers from Tennessee and Hawaii earlier in his recruiting process.
“It’s exciting, knowing that at Princeton, I’m getting the best of both worlds,” Hipa said. “They have an outstanding football team in the Ivy League, they’re winning championships up there. But there’s also the side that comes with my education. I know I’m getting the best education I can at Princeton University.
“I’m looking forward to it. I know it’s gonna be difficult. Challenging. But if you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re not getting better. I’m excited. I think if I just put everything I got into then I should come out successful, especially that 40-year plan, it’s not just the four (years of college). I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can make the most of it.”
Hipa threw for a combined 2,862 yards and 35 touchdowns during his freshman and sophomore seasons in 2018 and 2019, according to Hawaii Prep World. Making the most out of his opportunity to play early at Campbell paid dividends, as he generated plenty of college interest.
After the ongoing COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 prep football season in Hawaii, perhaps no team lost out on a chance to make history more than Campbell. Receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, the 2019 Cover2 Marcus Mariota Player of the Year, finished just 595 yards short of the Hawaii state receiving record and was well on pace to shatter that mark were he able to play in 2020. As Mokiao-Atimalala’s quarterback, Hipa also believes he would have garnered more offers had he been able to put more tape together for college coaches to see.
“As much as I don’t try to dwell on it, it’s hard because I know things would be so different for me, I believe things would be a lot different for me if I got to play my junior year, especially recruiting-wise after my sophomore year,” Hipa said. “Especially with all the talent we had coming back that year to Campbell, I think we would’ve been a good deal and it sucks not to have it but that’s just how life is. You gotta move on and kind of open new doors.
“In that entire process, I think it taught me a lot about who I am and just life in general, like when adversity comes and when it hits you, what are you gonna do about it? You can let it bring you down or motivate you or drive you to do something better or be a better person.”
Hipa played his senior year for Chandler High School in Arizona in 2021, where the 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw led the Wolves to an 11-2 record and a runner-up finish in the state. Since then, he’s moved back to Oahu, where he’ll graduate from Campbell later this spring.
“It’s great. There’s nothing I want more than that,” Hipa said of returning home. “I made a lot of friendships in Arizona but there’s no place like home like everybody says and for me to be home, I just feel great and knowing I’m gonna be able to graduate with the people I came up through high school with and it’s a good feeling.”