Local girl shines brightly on soccer fields in Hawai’i
At a time when local young men are in the spotlight, signing letters of intent to etch in stone which mainland colleges they will attend and play football for during the upcoming school year, one local girl is making noise in the Aloha State in the sport of soccer.
Seventeen-year-old Leuapoutasalina A. Leoso, better known as Tasalina to those who are close to her, is living proof that once you find your passion and work hard at achieving your goals, nothing is impossible — even for a girl from a tiny little island in the South Pacific.
The daughter of Qwilan Tuia of Leone and Pava’ia’i, and Archie Leoso of Alofau, Tasalina is currently a senior at Mililani High School where she excels both on and off the soccer field. All in all, she is the complete package — an athletic girl with beauty and brains.
Tasalina is a goalkeeper who has played soccer during all four years of high school. But her commitment to soccer hasn’t gotten in the way of her classroom accomplishments.
In 2010, she received honors in both Biology and English. In the two years that followed, she worked her way into Advanced Placement (AP) World History and (AP) Environmental Science. She is a recipient of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Award and is a member of the National Honor Society of High School Scholars.
In addition to Mililani HS, Tasalina also plays for a competitive HYSA Soccer Club which participates in various tournaments. As a matter of fact, Tasalina will be in Las Vegas next month for the College Soccer Players Showcase.
“Basically, soccer can be an all-year-round sport if you compete at higher levels,” explained her mother Qwilan through an email to Samoa News yesterday.
On the soccer field, Tasalina has been a ‘must see’ for her fans and rivals alike. She was named Most Valuable Impact Player for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) girls varsity division in 2013 and that same year, she was part of the HHSAA Girls Soccer Championship All-Tournament Team, Division
Additionally, Tasalina was an Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) – Red Division-1 Champion (2011, 2012, 2013) and she won the Team Player Award for the OIA Football Semi-Finals (2013).
• But keeping her nose in the books and her eye on the soccer ball aren’t the only things Tasalina’s got going for her.
• She has been a volunteer for both the Special Olympics soccer and the Great Aloha Run every year since 2010. In addition, she is part of the Mililani HS Polynesian Club and has served as her school’s football team manager for both the JV and varsity squad from 2012-2014. Between 2012 and 2013, Tasalina was involved with marine research and beach clean up activities.
Her idea of “relaxing hobbies” include lifting weights to balance body strength in her arms and legs; spending time with family and friends at the beach; and playing volleyball, swimming and surfing.
So what lies ahead for this young soccer star? According to her mom: College. The good news is, Tasalina has been such a presence on the soccer field, that she already has scholarship offers from colleges in California, Washington, and Oregon.
When asked to comment on her daughter’s achievements so far, Qwilan said, “I feel blessed and proud of Tasalina’s accomplishments in sports and school. When we first moved to Hawaii everything was foreign and new to her. The change was difficult but soon, Tasalina found her passion. It doesn’t matter to me if she wins or loses. I will always be proud of her regardless, because I know she works hard and does the best she can in everything she does.”
Tasalina was born in American Samoa and moved to Hawai’i when she was in the third grade.
“The transition was very hard because everything was unfamiliar to me,” Tasalina told Samoa News yesterday. “The people, the schools, and the culture… all very different. I finally found my place when I started playing soccer.”
She continued, “My mom is my number one supporter and fan. She never missed a game and has always believed in me. I can usually hear my mom cheering from the stands but if the crowd is too loud, I’ll look for her to make sure she is there.”
Tasalina said her future plans include attending college to pursue a degree in Engineering with a minor in Business Management.
“My goal is to secure a steady job where I can help our communities,” she said.
Will she ever return to Tutuila? Tasalina responded: “Yes, I believe that American Samoa is the best place in the world to raise a family. I love our Samoan culture and tradition. I miss Samoa a lot. Samoa will always be my home… it’s where I took my first steps and spoke my first words.”
Tasalina’s advice for young kids — especially girls — in American Samoa: “It doesn’t matter if you come from a small island or a big city. It’s very important to remember where you come from and who you are. The decisions you make every day affect your future. Always remember to work hard, be humble, be yourself, and never give up. Take education seriously because that is the key to a successful future. You have to have the drive and the right attitude. If you do, no matter what you choose in life, you will succeed.”
For now, Tasalina will continue to do what she does best. That is, making an impact on the soccer field while representing American Samoa at the same time.