Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance brings collegiate opportunities for Am. Samoa

Senior Bowl Game – still waiting on Am. Samoa coaches to respond
tony@samoanews.com

The Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance (PIAA) is opening more opportunities for the student athletes of American Samoa — an opportunity for those football players who may NOT have a Division I college scholarship shot after high school.

PIAA President and Director Doris Sullivan sent a notification to Samoa News, highlighting the fact that their alliance is still awaiting a response from the coaches here in American Samoa.

According to the letter, Sullivan wrote, “We’re having the Senior Bowl game – only one coach from Samoa responded who I know from Hawai’i, Pati Pati. The rest have not responded.”

She said, “I was thinking it would be great to get the info in your newspaper then either coaches would respond – or the parents will be disappointed. We can get others to nominate kids, people like parents, relatives, friends can nominate if they meet the criteria.”

Sullivan the head of the alliance has been part of the Life Champions Senior Bowl game for several years now. She said, “When the HUB senior bowl was cancelled after 40 plus years, I started working with Celeste and Keala Pule when the Hawaii Football Club took on the game and it’s been a great success.”

According to Sullivan’s letter, this gateway opportunity just might be the final year of the alliance, after a 15-year dedication to serving the Polynesian youth – she wrote, “Even though I am closing PIAA after 15 years, concluding with the class of 2017, I am still actively involved in this game, I believe it’s very important for these athletes.”

Going back to the bowl game, Sullivan told Samoa News in her letter that the Senior Bowl in Hawai’i will be at the end of the year. “This year the game is on December 10, 2016 in Kauai. The game will move each year from island to island and athletes from every island – including American Samoa, we’re hoping 10 players will be given the opportunity to come. From Guam, two players are invited.”

She added, “The athletes arrive on December 6 or 7 depending on your flights off the island of course.”

Sullivan emphasized that this was not part of the Polynesian Hall of Fame event. “This is not like the Polynesian game – the Hall of Fame group is putting on in January which of course will be a great event with the top players, most whom will have scholarship offers in hand by game time.”

Sullivan told Samoa News, “From what I was told, they will be inviting players from around the country, and only the top 1st Team All State seniors form Hawai’i and two or three from Samoa – it is not a “local” game and it’s not a college showcase. It’ll be more along the lines of Under Armour or Army All American Games.”

She added, “Our game is broadcast via the internet by ScoringLive.com – last year we had over 400 college coaches viewing the game and over 14,000 parents in the military, family and friends from around the world viewed the game live and in replay.”

According to PIAA standards to be eligible, each athletes is required to provide –

1)        Transcript showing a Minimum 2.5 GPA

2)        Administration referral (Principal, Counselor, or Athletic Director – can be waived to secure time, if all criteria’s are met)

3)        Must have taken or is scheduled to take the SAT or ACT

4)        Perform min. 8 hours dominated community service in 2016

5)        Character, attitude and work ethic by letter of recommendation

6)        Athletic ability by coach’s referral

Sullivan made it clear that – “these standards (however low the GPA, it is what the coach asked) allow us to be sure the athletes we bring in are not only ready for college, but are athletes the college coaches want to recruit.”

As of result of the alliance’s past years of service, Sullivan said, “These standards were met by all players each year, which resulted in Year one (Hilo) 42 scholarships offered out to 85 players; Year two (Hilo) 80 plus scholarship offers out to 120 players; and Year three (Kauai), we’re hoping for 100% out of 120 players”.

Sullivan continued, “What I need from each coach in American Samoa is to nominate 2 players from their own team ‘as soon as possible’ – NO Quarterbacks unless he is also excellent at another position. One must be an offensive lineman or defensive lineman; the other can be any other position. We will forward the nomination letter to you or to the athlete, which ever you prefer.”

The President of PIAA has high hopes in the island. “We’re hoping to get 10 athletes from American Samoa, so please give us 2 alternatives from your team or another team who you feel might be worthy of a nomination in the event other coaches do not make nominations,” she said.

According to Sullivan, the only thing mandated to be sent over at the current time are the information of players — “names, positions, height, weight, and contract info, as well as the coaches contact information.”

 “They need to respond by September 25, 2016 to be invited, which gives them plenty of time to raise funds for the trip,” added Sullivan.

Sullivan told Samoa News in her letter that they’ll accommodate and house the athletes, “feeding them, they will receive t-shirts, game jerseys, Under Armour sweatshirts all ground transportation and activities.”

Dedicated to getting our island boys to the bowl game, Sullivan said she’s trying hard to “find funding to offset all or part – of the $200 per athletes fee.” She added, “but I cannot guarantee it at this time. It is suggested athletes would start fundraising funds right away – aloha and fa’afetai.”

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