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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 3, 2003

Ho'ohuli returns with a purpose

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

This time, Watson Ho'ohuli decided, it was good advice to quit his day job.

Watson Ho'ohuli (No. 55) took time off to "take care of business. ... I had to recuperate and focus on things."

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I just missed it a lot," said Ho'ohuli, who rejoined the University of Hawai'i football team after a two-semester hiatus. "I know I'm doing the right thing now."

Ho'ohuli, a two-time All-State player at Kamehameha Schools, was a promising middle linebacker when he decided to leave the Warriors at the end of the 2001 season.

"I had to go over some things, take care of business off the field," said Ho'ohuli, noting the hiatus was not academic-related. "I needed that break real bad. I had to recuperate and focus on things."

Ho'ohuli quit school and worked at a Mercedes dealership as a lot attendant and apprentice mechanic. "That's something I had to do to pay the bills," said Ho'ohuli, who drives a 1989 Honda Civic.

Last fall, Ho'ohuli decided he was ready to try football again. That's when things turned hectic. The Warriors did not have any available scholarships. And on Jan. 13, his wife, Kristi, gave birth to the couple's son, Wynden.

"The first day (of the semester), my wife went into labor," he recalled. "I was driving back and forth to Queen's (Medical Center). I saw my son being born. Actually, I was on the side, telling her 'to push.' The whole experience was a blessing."

Becoming a father and returning to school, Ho'ohuli said, "changed everything for me. My whole outlook on life changed. I love taking care of my son and taking care of business."

Ho'ohuli is listed No. 3 on the depth chart, behind middle linebacker Chad Kalilimoku and Tanuvasa Moe. There are no guarantees he will ascend the chart nor if he will reclaim his scholarship.

But associate head coach George Lumpkin, who coaches the linebackers, said he is encouraged by Ho'ohuli's play in the first two days of spring practice.

"It doesn't look like he's lost too much," Lumpkin said. "He'll be fine. He has to work his way back up. You know, the cream always rises to the top. If he's one of the better 'backers, he'll show it."

Ho'ohuli said: "Right now, I'm working hard, being in the weight room a lot, studying the plays and trying to earn back my scholarship. We'll see what happens."