Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 22, 2003

Curnan's simple plan had his family in mind

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Long before "The Simple Life" was a reality-television show, the simple life was a reality for University of Hawai'i linebacker Ikaika Curnan.

Ikaika Curnan had to adjust to the pace after moving to O'ahu from his six-acre farm in Keapana, Kaua'i.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Growing up on the family's six-acre farm in Keapana, Kaua'i, Curnan was driving at age 9 and, a year later, operating a back hoe and tractor.

Curnan and Uncle Wilfred were on the road before the rooster's wake-up call, collecting leftover food from hotel restaurants.

In the evening, they would cook the leftovers into a stew, then serve the slop to the 120 pigs. After that, Curnan helped hose down the pigs and clean their pens.

The pork that was not sold was stored in large freezers. For family gatherings, Curnan would dig an imu and then set it.

When mudslides cut off the electricity and water power to the family houses, Curnan stood in the downpour, gathering rain in a large bucket, and then announcing, "Who wants to use the bathroom?"

Curnan's game-by-game tackles

Appl. State
2 unassist
2 assisted
4 total

at USC
3 unassist.
2 assisted
5 total

4 unassist.
2 assisted
6 total

6 unassist.
4 assisted
10 total

at Tulsa
6 unassist.
8 assisted
14 total

Fresno St.
9 unassist.
3 assisted
12 total

at La. Tech
8 unassist.
3 assisted
11 total

9 unassist.
4 assisted
13 total

1 unassist.
6 assisted
7 total

at Nevada
4 unassist.
0 assisted
4 total

3 unassist.
1 assisted
4 total

9 unassist.
6 assisted
15 total

Boise St.
4 unassist.
3 assisted
7 total

"My son is a basic person," Corinne Curnan said. "His lifestyle is very simple. If he wants something, he works hard for it."

Always too heavy to play Pop Warner football, Ikaika exhausted his energy on other sports. He played baseball and basketball and competed as a junior golfer. His youth soccer team participated in a 10-day tournament in Europe.

He first played organized football as a freshman at Kapa'a High. His junior varsity coach was David Yoshida, son of former UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida.

After Ikaika's freshman year, Corinne and Martin Curnan decided they wanted Ikaika and his younger brother, Kawai, to attend a private school on O'ahu. Ikaika and Kawai applied at Kamehameha Schools, where their sister, mother and five aunts and uncles had graduated. The brothers were turned down at Kamehameha, but accepted at Saint Louis School.

While Martin, a former Boise State football player, knew of Saint Louis' strong football reputation, Corinne recalled, laughing, "I never really heard about that. When you're a Kamehameha grad, what is Saint Louis?"

She reluctantly agreed to allow Ikaika and Kawai to enroll at Saint Louis.

"Economically, it would have been much better to send two to Kamehameha," she said. "It's better to pay $1,500 (per tuition) instead of paying eight grand for each kid. But we couldn't split up the boys. Kawai and Ikaika are very close. If one went, the other would have to go."

Corinne took a custodial job at Aloha Airlines. "Let me tell you, I'm not ashamed," she said. "I clean the airplane. I love it. I'm so grateful to have that job. We can fly free anywhere Aloha flies, including the Mainland. I wanted that as security for my sons in case they needed to fly home."

While attending Saint Louis, Ikaika and Kawai lived with an aunt and uncle, Pilialoha and Jerry Wang, in Kane'ohe. Another aunt, Harvalee Nary, helped prepare their meals.

Still, Ikaika said it was a difficult transition, "especially at that age. I have a lot of friends up there (in Keapana). When I came over, I had to start all over. The first year at Saint Louis was tough trying to get adjusted to everything. The lifestyle was way faster. In the country, where I lived, everything was laid back."

Living on Oahu's windward side, Ikaika remembered "getting up early to beat the traffic. I never saw traffic like that in my life until I moved here. I'm used to one way in, one way out. Coming here, it was, 'whoa.' It was a big adjustment for me."

On the field, he adapted quickly. As a Saint Louis junior, he was named as The Advertiser's Defensive Player of the Year. As a senior, he was named as a USA Today All-American.

Ikaika turned down overtures from several schools, including Southern California, to sign with the Warriors in February 2001. The decision wasn't as difficult as meeting the NCAA eligibility requirements. Although he had decent grades, Ikaika did not earn a qualifying SAT score until his eighth attempt.

Ikaika Curnan facts
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Height: 5 feet 11
  • Weight: 218
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Keapana, Kaua'i
  • High school: Saint Louis
  • Birthdate: Jan. 14, 1983

• 2002: Played 10 games ... amassed 15 tackles, including nine unassisted ... played primarily on special teams.

• 2001: Redshirted

"It was a hard thing for him, but he was so diligent," Corinne said. "We even hired a tutor to help him practice for the SAT. He worked at it until he passed."

Saint Louis organized a news conference for the first day a recruit could sign a letter of commitment to accept a football scholarship. Ikaika and his teammates received lei and congratulations from family and friends.

After the event, Ikaika turned to Corinne and said, "Oh, Mom, they had no clue how tough it was."

She said: "Bruddah, they had no clue at all."

"Every kid who plays football has a dream," Ikaika said. "He wants to play in college. To me, I wanted to have a scholarship somewhere. I wanted a scholarship so my parents wouldn't have to pay anything. That was my goal. They do so much for me. They make sacrifices for me. They're always thinking about my future. I wanted to do something to help them."

Corinne said: "That's Ikaika. But all of my kids are like that. They're grateful for everything they have. They're easy-to-love kids."

• • •

Career statistics
G UT AT Total TFL Sacks FC PBU
2002 10 9 6 15 00 0-0 0 0
2003 13 68 44 112 11-40 4-24 1 1
Key: UT—Unassisted tackles; AT—Assisted tackles; TFL—Tackles for loss/yards; FC—Fumble recovered; PBU—Passes broken up