LEONE LIONS FOCUS ON COMPETITION UNDER NEW HEAD COACH, OKLAND SALAVE'A
The 'Home of the Lions' – Leone High School's football program is now under the management of Head Coach, Okland Salave'a – the former Tafuna Warriors Head Football Coach, who carried the Warriors program to the top for numerous years in American Samoa High School Athletics Association football.
During his reign as head coach for Tafuna, Salave'a made history in their football program as the first head coach to carry the Warriors through their first championship streak — from 2011 to 2013 — a 3-peat feat.
But that’s history.
Without a doubt, Salave'a made it clear to Samoa News that he's dedicated to the Lions program and he's going to try his best to revive the programs history back to its glory days – Leone Lions still remain at the top of ASHSAA Football Championship Records with the most Championships won (15) in American Samoa.
Salave'a told Samoa News that his transition from Tafuna High School to the Home of the Lions, “was a bit hard at first — not knowing the kids and their abilities to play football. As well as adjusting from the different ways they use to have football here at Leone.”
The Lions who were under the management of former head coach Arona Samoa throughout the past years, are being introduced to the Salave'a College Prep Football Training System that he had going for Tafuna, but the head coach himself is also being ‘introduced’ to Leone’s football program.
Salave'a said, “So even up to now, I'm still trying to feel my way through – especially having a brand new coaching staff, so we're trying to ‘gel’ and we're trying to think of ways to bring the kids and the team together.”
According to the head coach, the Lions Football Program started ‘melding’ about a month ago, but he is still trying to make an impact on his players — trying to get them to understand the reality of coming out to practice consistently. “Most of the kids are just now coming to practice — it’s like you go forward one day, then you go backwards the next, due to the fact that the kids don't really come out to practice.”
The mighty Lions team in this year is comprised of 36 players for the Varsity division and 28 players for the Junior Varsity (JV) division, according to Salave'a.
He spoke of his training process to Samoa News, saying, “One thing that I'm a strong believer in is the weight lifting program — so we got that to start with our kids here at Leone High School. It's just the fact of practicing the habit of showing up for practice everyday.”
The head coach said, “We continue to instill in the kids that it's not easy — and that's what makes football different, from all the other sports that they've played. It is time consuming because it is the time that you have to spend — to be a competitor or be a good player.”
Salave'a told Samoa News, “Our focus and our goal this year is to be competitive a lot more than usual, and I'm hoping that the kids will respond in a positive way where we can stay with Faga'itua when we play them in our first game.”
Leone is set to face the Vikings this Saturday, as ASHSAA's season opener match up.
Salave'a acknowledged and sent out his appreciation to those who've supported them throughout their preparations leading up to this year’s season. "I would like to thank all the parents of these kids that are on the team, for supporting our football program and for allowing their kids to come out to practice. I know they are obligated to family activities, and church as well.
“My sincerest thank you goes out to all of my coaching staff that has been out here for long hours to try and make sure that our kids are ready for the first game, and then to our principal and his staff for being there every single day to see if we needed anything. Special thank you to my coaches families, especially their wives.
“I have to thank them because if your wife is not supportive of what you’re doing, it makes it very hard to be an effective coach.
“Lastly I would like to thank Siliga Floyd Scanlan and some of the strong alumni of Leone High School that are there for us," he said.
Salave'a concluded, “I would like to wish good luck to all the teams out there, and may the best team win.”