Jamora from Kahuku


Hau’oli la hanau means “Happy birthday.”

Hau’oli makahiki hau means “Happy new year.”

Hau’oli Jamora means trouble if you’re across the line of scrimmage.

Jamora, the youngest of three children, is a source of pride and happiness for his family, especially his mother, Dawn, but the affable, quiet defensive end’s role on the football field is to make the opposition unhappy, kaumaha, and Jamora does that well.

It might not have been that way had Jamora not grown up in Kahuku.

It was not expected that a true freshman could come in and play like Jamora did against Oregon State, a double overtime 35 – 34 win for Washington where Jamora had five tackles (two for losses) and 1½ sacks.  Taking over for injured Talia Crichton, however, Jamora was relentless.  His intensity continued through the remainder of the season and into the Holiday Bowl where he had four tackles (three for losses) and one sack.  Surprising to some.  But not to friends on O’ahu’s North Shore.

Kahuku High School Head Football Coach Reggie Torres is one person not too surprised by Jamora’s early success at Washington.  During Jamora’s senior year, Torres commented, “He’s the last to leave the weight room, and he watches a lot of film, one-on-one, in addition to what we watch together as a team.  That’s what makes him unique. He’s consistent about it.”  Jamora was and is determined to succeed.

What motivates Jamora?  First, a sense of

community, a bond among local residents – to many mainland inhabitants, a social dynamic as distant as the islands themselves.  That sense of community in Kahuku, however, is ubiquitous.

The 21-acre Kahuku High and Intermediate School campus has less than 2,000 students, drawing from a 26-mile swath along the North Shore including Sunset Beach, Kahuku, and Laie.  In the fall, the area’s community focal point is the Kahuku football team.  At every home game, the stands are filled, the field ringed with spectators, and when Kahuku gets behind, the fans just become louder.  O’ahu’s North Shore is Kahuku High’s 12th man.  Former Kahuku football player John Manu-Olevao, after moving to Kahuku from Hilo (on the big island of Hawai’i), described the Kahuku football mindset: “When you go on the field, you not only represent the school but the community [as well] and, mostly, your family.”  That family is an extended one.  Manu-Olevao went on to say, “The whole community and school are so close, everyone gets along, and it is like one big family.”  In 2000, following a long-awaited state championship where Kahuku beat powerhouse St. Louis High, as the team bus returned home the next day, along the highway people were holding up congratulatory signs.  A parade was held in town and everyone was there.  The whole area celebrated…as Hawai’ians celebrate.  “It was like a big [Hawai’ian] wedding,” said one Kahuku graduate.

This feeling of community is not, however, a universal Hawai’ian cultural trait, something prevalent throughout O’ahu and the other islands.  It was not like that at Hilo according to Manu-Olevao.  Kahuku doesn’t mean “family” but it could.

Kahuku (from the words ka huku), at the northern tip of the North Shore of O’ahu, means “the projection” because Kahuku Point projects into the Pacific Ocean – perhaps fitting because Jamora often projects his way into the other team’s backfield.  Kahuku is in proximity to three of the more challenging surfing spots in Hawai’i (and the world): Waimea, Sunset and the nearby Banzai Pipeline.

Kahuku is a beautiful area, as is most of Hawai’i, but while the distance from Honolulu to Kahuku is only 30 miles, in some ways Honolulu is more distant.  Honolulu has the hotels and the urban environment but not quite the sense of togetherness.  The North Shore setting and modest population enhance a sense of community that galvanizes at Kahuku High in the fall.

Kahuku coaches do not depend on the strength, athleticism and size of their players – it seems every school in Hawai’i has their share of big, strong, athletes.  Kahuku coaches depend on detail, preparation, even to the point where, before games, Kahuku coaches have players mentally prepare by projecting in their minds what they would do under certain circumstances, effectively a last-minute mental football practice.

The Kahuku players are also motivated by a sense of posterity.  After a game the Kahuku players will perform a haka, an aggressive, ostensibly angry, ceremonial dance with roots in the South Sea Islands, reflecting the common ancestry of many Kahuku players.  As is evident in the video below, players take the Kahuku haka seriously.

Kahuku haka (turn up the volume) led by defensive tackle Dallin Muti.

Imua (“Imua Kahuku” at the end of the video) means “number one.”  Who’s gonna argue?

Besides community, as indicated above, Kahuku players are motivated by a desire to please and honor their families by playing well, and Hau’oli Jamora plays with unrelenting intensity in part because he wants his family to be proud of him, as he is proud of them.  It is a matter of honor.  Jamora’s attractive mother, Dawn Nua, raised Hau’oli and his siblings as a single parent, and Jamora is determined to maximize his talents, rewarding his mother’s efforts and love.

Jamora initially chose Brigham Young University to please his coaches, and said all the right things at the time.  But deep inside he knew BYU was not where he wanted to go.  Ultimately, after taking a recruiting trip to Washington, (even though he caught pneumonia) he knew he wanted to go to Washington.  He liked the intellectual acumen and confidence of Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, and that Sarkisian had great success at USC.  He liked the intensity and fire of Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt.  Nick Holt could have gone to Kahuku.  Although graduate school was in the future, Jamora was impressed that Washington had one of the top medical schools in the nation.  He wants to go into medicine.  Jamora could see that Washington was a great opportunity: a chance to play early for a rising program at a university with a highly regarded medical school.  His mother would be proud.

An Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-Pac-12 selection, sophomore Jamora is entrenched at one defensive end, with either Everrette Thompson or Talia Crichton at the other.  Listed at 238 lbs. last season, Jamora is roughly 15 lbs. heavier this season and continues to get stronger and maybe a little faster.  It would be hard to improve on his intensity, however.  That’s always been there.  He’s from Kahuku.

Jamora’s on-field fire is contagious and others emulate his style, his intensity.  The quiet defensive end, through example, is helping to bring the Washington defense together, a bonding similar to what Jamora knew at Kahuku.  This esprit d’corps should continue to grow stronger during the season and into next season and beyond, perhaps to the point where Kahuku and Washington esprit are nearly identical.  The only thing missing will be the haka.