You've just finished watching the Patriots upset the Rams, and you're Jonesin’ to go out and throw some ball. You grab your rarely used cleats you bought just for this occasion. You call up a few friends and head over to Aiea Park. You get out of the car, start joggin’ to the field, and "what the heck is going on?!" – there are dozens of guys in full pads throwing, kicking and TACKLING at full speed. No, your friends didn't go too far with the weekend warrior bit, you're seeing the Hawaiian Warriors Football team in action, and they mean business.

The Hawaiian Warriors are Hawaii’s semi-pro football team. Every year Coach Father John Frederick puts together a Hawaii Volcano Bowl Game, pitting your Hawaii team against a top notch semi-pro team from the mainland. This year, on February 9, at Cooke Field at 7:30 PM, their opponent happens to be the Free Agent Scouting Combine (FASCO) All Stars, filled with NFL hopefuls (95% of the FASCO team has played college ball on the mainland, with an offensive line averaging well over 300 pounds each). You may be wondering what chance a bunch of guys from Hawaii have against a bunch of former college athletes from the mainland.... Well, they beat them last year, and you can be sure that they are looking to repeat that success again this year. Join Hawaii411, as we take you to meet the team and its coaches.

The Hawaiian Warriors are lead by Father John Frederick. Father John is the head coach, owner, and father-figure of the team. He saw football as a way to get troubled youths off the street and give them direction on and off the field. “You have a bunch of guys from 20-30 that society forgets about,” Father John commented. "They have direction from elementary through high school, and then, if they don’t go to college, they have nothing. These guys get into trouble without the guidance. Some of them need the direction. I saw football as a way to help them.” Father John not only provides inspiration on the field, but has helped players find jobs in the community as well. Players cite that they know Father John “Got their back” and is there for them 24-7. Players on a Father John led team know that even though they have his total support, they must adhere to a strict code of conduct if they want to play.

What started out as a means to help misguided youths has evolved into much more than that. The Hawaiian Warriors, like other semi-pro and professional teams in Hawaii, started to attract players from all walks of life (see sidebar: Seven Groups of Players…).

The semi-pro team fills the need to compete after high school and college playing days are over. Players like tight-end Keoni Colburn cite “unfinished business” after playing only a year of high-school football at Nanakuli. Keoni saw the team practicing one day, inquired about it, and joined up. In fact, he enjoyed playing so much, that he recruited six others to join the team. 

Mark Pitolo is one of the “elders” of the team at 35 years old. He is powered by a lot of heart as well as a desire to set a good example for his two sons. Wanting to accomplish more than just preaching the techniques and fundamentals of the game, Mark decided he could show them as well. Men like Mark bring wisdom and stability to the team, and set a good example as a loving father for some of the younger players.

Hawaii’s Military can be proud of its addition to the Warrior football team. Father John states, “the Military guys mix into the team really well,” bringing an air of discipline along with a great work ethic. Starting wide receiver Josh Cesavice played for Ball State University prior to joining the Army. An Infantryman, Josh acknowledges that he may be called overseas on a moments notice, but that doesn’t stop him from going all out in the games and practice. “I’d like to go to the next level… but I’ll play on ANY team that’s around.” For many of the players like Josh, the team becomes a second family, “These guys ARE my family. I’d go to hell and back for them.”

Father John has put numerous players into professional teams at the next level. An example of two of the players with such talent are QB Ron Bradbury and DB/Rover Vili Pa’ama.

Ron Bradbury would rather play fullback, but has got a cannon for an arm. Bradbury has had looks from other professional teams, and was to be given a tryout with NFL Europe. Unfortunately, Bradbury’s commitment to the U.S. Navy prevented his move.

Vili Pa’ama signed with an agent from the Sporting Frontiers professional football recruitment  organization. At 5’11 and 200 pounds, this rover covers the field from sideline to sideline and loves to hit. Pa’ama didn’t even think of taking it to the next level when he started, “I just wanted to play.”

The team puts in long practices. For most of the players, the practices extend an already exhausting day at a fulltime job. They work hard to get into shape for the next game, often not returning home to their families until 10:00 at night. They play for no money, and often have to pay for their own equipment. Although there are some with the desire and talent to move to the next level, Father John makes sure they have realistic expectations. Most of the players just want to compete. What is agreed upon by all the players was said bes
t by the biggest player on the team at 6’4’’ and 385 pounds – Tee Auega Tali, “I do it for the love of the game. I just want to play football. You know, the contact, the guys, everything about the game. I thank Father John and God for this opportunity to play.” In a sharp contrast to Aaron Glenn, who was left off of the Patriot's Super Bowl roster because of his poor attitude, isn't it refreshing to watch a team full of players who play for the love of the game?

On Saturday, February 9, 7:30 PM, at Cooke Field, you’ll get your chance.  Get out there to Cooke Field, and support the Hawaiian Warriors!

The Seven Groups of Players that Play Semi Pro Football:
1. High school players who graduate but don’t qualify for college
2. Player who plays college football but can’t continue on because of family and financial responsibilities
3. Player who has played four years of college football, was not recruited to play pro football, but still wants to play
4. Player who attends a community or junior college that does not have a football program
5. Player who could not or did not ever play football
6. Military member who is stationed in Hawaii with a desire to play football
7. "Kalohe" or troubled young man who has been incarcerated or a felon, but is a good or great football player

More info:

Volcano Bowl III
February 9, 2002 7:30 PM @ University of Hawaii’s Cooke Field
Hawaiian Warriors vs. FASCO All-Stars
Pre-sale tickets $5 each, $7 at the Gate
All Proceeds go towards the game expenses.
  
The Hawaiian Warriors is non-profit; players, coaches, staff and management are volunteers. No one receives a penny for their involvement.

Thumbs up for Father John for his volunteer work!


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If you want to learn more about the Hawaiian Warriors, visit www.hawaiianwarriors.com.