Video: Chicago coach reaches out to local players
All the way from Chicago, Head Coach of the Vikings from North Park University, Mike Conway — who, along with his staff — is on island seeking out “Home Grown Samoan” football players to join his family of Vikings back in the States. This is the first time a “Head Coach” has traveled to American Samoa to seek out local players from Tutuila personally, instead of sending a recruiter.
According to Conway, he already has two local Samoan boys playing on his Vikings squad, and they are both 2012 graduates, one from Samoana High School, the other from Tafuna. They are Ronnie Mase, the wide receiver for the Sharks and Jr. Etelagi, an offensive lineman for the Warriors. The players drew Conway’s interest last year, which has led to this special trip to American Samoa.
He said their personalities and their hard working efforts are what they need most in their Chicago football program. “I had to travel across the world, to find guys who love football first, and I know the kids here love football because it isn’t easy — and I love a player who wants a challenge.”
“We have a map in our meeting room, it’s a world map, and Ronnie and Jr. are always touching the map on the exact spot that American Samoa is located. They touch the island, they touch Pago Pago, it makes them think of home, and they miss home. But they know their lives are changing for the better by living out their dreams.”
Conway added, “ I want players that want something exciting to happen in their lives. I want a player who wants an opportunity that most people told them they couldn’t have. I have two guys on my team that told me people used to tell them that they can’t get off the island. Well, guess what… they’re off the island, and they are successful out there because they are a part of our family, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
The Chicago head coach stated they want the “Real Deal”.
He said, " We've got four Samoans in our school from the island, not the 'fake Samoans' like the kids who grew up in California and Hawai’i, but actual kids from here in American Samoa, and as of now, they are all extremely successful.”
A former NFL Player for the Buffalo Bills — Head Coach Conway added he felt like God had pointed him to American Samoa.
“I’m here for a reason, God called me to come here for some reason. Maybe for one of these local players, or maybe for all of them, but everything happens for a reason in your life; an opportunity happens for a reason, and this is an opportunity for these local student athletes to get off the island, and live their dreams, pursue the next level of education, and build for a better future.”