California Uni Football Welcomes Lone Toailoa
Growing up in West Auckland in a family of Samoan heritage, Lone Toailoa spent his childhood playing rugby and practicing mixed martial arts. It wasn’t until he started toying with the Madden video game as a teenager that he began wondering if American football could be the avenue to an education.
Even then, Toailoa, 23, couldn’t have dreamed that, just five years after picking up football, the sport would shuttle him some 10,000km to the top-ranked public university in the world to play for the California Golden Bears.
“You get a kid who comes all the way from New Zealand [to the University of California, Berkeley], and he’s living the American dream right now,” defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said. “He soaks it all up. He soaks it up in the meetings. He soaks it up at lunch. He can’t believe you can get all this food. Just being able to have all this stuff, it’s a whole new experience for him.
“It’s great to see a young man appreciate all that. It’s infectious.”
Original article by Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle, August 15, 2018.
Photo by Cal Athletics.