Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Coach | Ken Niumatalolo


The only college football team I wholeheartedly cheer for is Baylor (obviously), but I've grown fond of Navy's team as I discovered head coach Ken Niumatalolo. As one of, if not the only Polynesian head coach in the nation (please don't attack me if that statement is incorrect!), coach Niumatalolo is one of my sports heroes. Did you know that Polynesians are 28 times more likely to play football in the NFL than any other ethnic group yet we are the least represented in coaching. That fact doesn't make sense in the bigger picture. Due to the lack of Poly coaches in the league, it's exciting to see coach Niumatalolo thrive at the helms of Navy's football program. As only the second person of Polynesian descent to be named head football coach of a DI team, he's held the position at the Naval Academy since 2007, using his experience as QB at the University of Hawaiʻi to his advantage. While at UH from 1987-89, Niumatalolo led the Rainbow Warriors to their first ever bowl berth in 89. After graduating, coach accepted a GA position with UH under the direction of OC Paul Johnson from 1990-94. Johnson left UH in 95 to become Navy's OC, taking Niumatalolo with him as RB coach. Once Johnson left Navy, Niumatalolo stepped in as the team's OC till 98 where he worked with RBs and QBs. From 1999-2001, Niumatalolo transferred to UNLV to work with TEs and special teams. He returned to Navy as the OL coach in 2002 and was promoted to head coach in 2007. Navy has become a power team under Niumatalolo whose head coaching record reads as 77-42 in the regular season and 4-5 bowl games. After Navy changed conferences in 2015 to join the AAC, the team accumulated 11-2 and 9-5 wins in 2015 and 16, respectively. My favorite win of theirs was their defeat of Houston last fall because I enjoy any time Polys prevail and Tom Herman loses! It's inspiring to see a Polynesian paragon like coach Ken Niumatalolo succeed as the head coach of a major football program and I'm picturing myself next to him in the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame one day!

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