UH football: “Sleeper” hopes to fulfill dream

Raised in ‘Ewa Beach and soon to be graduating from Iolani School, lineman Taaga Tuulima is living a life seemingly created in a Disney writers’ room.

In this academic year’s third quarter, Tuulima set a goal of straight A’s. He did better, earning a 4.5 GPA, thanks to advance-placement classes in calculus, physics and economy. He also studies Mandarin, and plays saxophone in the stage band. He recently received Iolani’s Walter Goo Trophy for combined excellence in athletics and academics.

“He’s your ideal student-athlete,” Iolani coach Wendell Look said. “He takes his academics as serious, if not more seriously, than athletics. His family has been great supporters of Iolani School. I can see where he gets his work ethic.”

Tuulima awakens at 5 in the morning to catch a ride to town with his father. During the football season, they made it back to the West Side as late as 9 p.m. — partly because of rail construction, partly because Tuulima helped teammates with football techniques.

“He takes them out there (on the field) and works with them,” Look said. “That’s an example of what kind of kid he is.”

Tuulima played right tackle for Iolani, but is projected to compete on the defensive line at UH. Tuulima will join the Warriors as a freshman walk-on this summer.

“I have a bunch of friends who go to UH, and they told me it’s a great school,” Tuulima said of his college choice. “And I get to stay home.”

Tuulima said he hopes to major in engineering or business.

Look said Tuulima, who is 6 feet 3 and 270 pounds, is a “sleeper” for the Warriors.

Look said Tuulima gained 10 pounds of muscle since the end of the 2015 season, and “he’s still athletic.”

Look said Tuulima’s “dream” has been to play on defense. “He’s going to get his shot,” Look said. “He’ll be great there, too. He has long arms. He’s had that desire to play defense.”

Look praised Tuulima’s parents, describing them as “givers.”

“They don’t expect anything,” Look added. “They just give. If you had a group of parents like them, you’d be in heaven.”

Pua Tuulima tutored student-athletes in biology and other sciences. Wayne Tuulima took action pictures at games, then converted them into posters for the players.

“They do it out of love for Iolani School and our kids,” Look said. “They’re a very loving and generous family.”


  1. st. anthony trojan June 1, 2016 10:10 am


  2. Stephen Tsai June 1, 2016 10:19 am

    St. Anthony:
    C’mon, you need more confidence in your ability to seize the pole position.

  3. letsgowarriors June 1, 2016 10:24 am

    liking the quality of walkons Rolo and Co. have been able to recruit

  4. SteveM June 1, 2016 10:24 am

    …right after st. anthony trojan. 🙂

    Welcome to Taaga Tuulima!

  5. hilrain June 1, 2016 10:25 am

    The real #2? Well 3, if you count ST post.

  6. hilrain June 1, 2016 10:26 am

    dang too slow typing.

  7. NotNasti June 1, 2016 10:39 am

    Technically, St. Anthony is correct, since ST has the first post of every day. I think I could make that argument stick.

  8. st. anthony trojan June 1, 2016 10:46 am

    There seems to be very much more “action” this summer…..compared to summers past…..concerning walk on’s n transfers…can only guess that sumbody is doing things right up there within the coaching staff…and this latest dude seems to be a ‘big body type”.

    ST….since you carry a big stick up there at the SA office… can you please ask editor why the …QUESTION OF THE DAY… on the digital edition is always smaller type then the rest of the text in the digital copy ???

  9. Stephen Tsai June 1, 2016 11:07 am

    St. Anthony
    I have no juice at SA
    Not even pulp.
    But I’m all for larger type.

  10. st. anthony trojan June 1, 2016 11:07 am

    Dammmmmm I knew there were sum lawyer types in here… thanks
    Nasti…he he he

  11. st. anthony trojan June 1, 2016 11:08 am

    Sawdust maybe ?

  12. SteveM June 1, 2016 11:41 am

    Just finished reading Ferd’s columnn and the story in the S-A Money section about the loss of the Pro Bowl. We lose $25 million in tourist revenue while we pay the NFL $5.2 million for the game.

    Since I am not in the tourist industry and don’t receive a penny of the tourist $$$, one of the few things I ever agreed with former governor Shorty was that we cannot afford the Pro Bowl. Why?

    Lessee…we have $25 million in retail sales here–or at least that is the revenue reported to the state fo tax purposes. The state gets back 4% (the other .5% goes to the city for rail and hotel taxes goes to the city too). So, $25M x 4% is $1 million recovered in taxes.

    Thus the state loses $4.2 million from it’s piggy bank each Pro Bowl since the HTA is funded by the state piggybank. Note the state piggybank is filled by our tax dollars.

    UH sports also bring in tourists, although the numbers are smaller and more spread out. The same local vendors benefit from the tourist spending, yet HTA refuses to help UH athletics. So in a recent Star-Advertiser poll, I voted to give HTA $5.2 million LESS for the Pro Bowl. I believe the state should subsidize UH travel expenses, since visiting team fans must fly here, stay at some lodging, and eat– no one can casually drive in for the game here and drives off after.

  13. naks8 June 1, 2016 11:57 am

    You think Hawaii has any chance for the Baylor players who are rescinding their nli’s? Do we have anymore scholarships available for 2016?

  14. islandman June 1, 2016 12:08 pm

    I think Orlando will pay the NFL $1 million for the Pro Bowl. How come Honolulu/ Hawaii had to pay $5.2 million ?
    The Pro Bowl week will have many activities promoting football to youth. They should have a seminar on the dangers to the youth’s brains and other areas.

  15. Da Punchbowl Kid June 1, 2016 12:50 pm

    Looks like a quality recruit for the Warriors walk-on program. Taaga seems to have the have brains, passion and work ethic to do well. Wishing Tuulima all the best and sending a big mahalo to him for choosing to be a Warrior.

  16. Ipu Man June 1, 2016 1:16 pm

    Taaga’s 4.5 GPA would get him a full 4 year’s scholarship
    academically anywhere you would think… Congrats to him.

  17. Stephen Tsai June 1, 2016 1:27 pm

    I liked the Pro Bowl.
    Well, I hated to cover it because security was such a pain. Then again, nobody wants to hear a reporter complain.
    Anyway, the Pro Bowl was an event in a state where there aren’t many events. We don’t have stadium concerts anymore. We don’t have a lot of things.
    And, yes, the game was watered down. But so what?
    I remember when I first saw the Harlem Globetrotters here. I laughed. I was in awe. I flinched when I thought someone was going to be doused with water (oh, the old confetti fakeout).
    And I never noticed that we didn’t get the first team. Or probably not the second, either. No Curly. No Meadowlark. Not even sure if we had Marques Haynes. The thing was, it was an event.
    For a city that used to get Monday Night Football shown a week after the game — talk about close-your-eyes time — and Walter Cronkite the morning after the news aired, hey, we shouldn’t be griping about the quality of an NFL event.
    The City pays for lawsuits that you and I had nothing to do with. We’re paying for a rail that will never be finished. So, what the heck, why not pay for an NFL event. It’s gonna feel weird when we’re sitting here by our lonesome next January.

  18. oldtimer808 June 1, 2016 2:36 pm

    ST you too railing about our obsolete, financial aligator Da Rail.

  19. islandman June 1, 2016 2:48 pm

    I liked the Globetrotters’ rubber band attached to the ball trick.

  20. cappie the dog June 1, 2016 4:50 pm

    Frank Arnold’s first team was literally the Washington Generals. Andre Morgan, I remember, who looked decent as a Larry Little recruit, would take the most horrible shots imaginable, kind of like Russell Westbrook, but without a prayer.

  21. Akamai Okole June 1, 2016 4:56 pm

    Great Afternoon All!

    Eh, 3-Prong…Iolani No Ka Oi?

    Go get em, Mr Tuulima.

  22. RSYmoney June 1, 2016 5:40 pm

    Taaga, UH has a great business school and a better Engineering Department. Study and play hard. Make your parents and Hawaii Nei proud of you. Thank you for staying home!

  23. Boya_jr June 1, 2016 5:56 pm

    I’m proud of this young man! Iolani and UH grad here!

  24. Jeezy33 June 1, 2016 6:30 pm

    18. The typical 3 inch growth spurt most of us get our senior year of high school .. Lol,, sleeper alert

  25. A-House June 1, 2016 7:25 pm

    young Tuulima:

    6′ 3″ — 270 #s — DL walk-on with long arms and a 4.5 GPA

    what am I missing? why no scholarship? none to give or holding for a special, big time player?

    current UH scholarship players better than he?

    this one really, truly begs the question, WHY???

  26. seasider June 1, 2016 7:59 pm

    With a 4.5 GPA from Iolani, definitely an academic full-ride.

  27. turfwar June 1, 2016 8:59 pm

    Does not look 6’3″ in hudl video. Closer to 6’1″. But if he’s stout enough he can certainly play DL at that height. If he has indeed sprouted to 6’3″ won’t be long before he’s a scholie guy. Athletic and moves well.

  28. Stephen Tsai June 1, 2016 9:32 pm

    It was his coach who gave his height/weight. I don’t walk around with a tape measure or scale. But he’s a good player and a better student and person. There’s no disputing that.

  29. z June 1, 2016 10:54 pm

    I like this player. Great addition to the team.

  30. Pukalani boy June 1, 2016 11:26 pm

    Good get for warriors.

  31. 3-Prong June 1, 2016 11:39 pm

    Another Raider to watch on top of Hanaui’o eh Akamai !

    one TEAM!

  32. 3-Prong June 1, 2016 11:42 pm

    ….sorry, Hauani’o (correction)

  33. Maddog50 June 2, 2016 1:21 am

    Some, not many preferred walk-ons develop into players/contributors in terms of on field play. I like the additions, in the last few years there have been a a couple of additions that received scholarships that never sniffed the field. A preferred walk on is given a shot to prove themselves and earn a scholarship, in no way are promises made-the challenge is there via the opportunity. I wish them the best and applaud the I effort. Go Warriors!

  34. OKC Electrician June 2, 2016 5:55 am

    Congrats to this guy! I hope he goes far in life!

  35. Paniolo June 2, 2016 10:39 am

    Just read that Colt Brennan was hired as a assistant for a local high school.
    Now that we have former Warriors on the football staff, I hope Coach Rolovich, a Warrior himself, would consider hiring Colt Brennan and find a position for him on his staff.
    I believe Colt Brennan is still loved by many, many Warrior football fans despite his personal problems here. Hiring Colt Brennan may just bring back the fans to Aloha stadium for each home games this year – my gut feeling.

  36. Stephen Tsai June 2, 2016 10:59 am

    New post: http://hawaiiwarriorworld.com/?p=37682

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