Once a Viking, always a Viking: Siua takes on the life of a footballer in Valley City State

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There’s a cozy vibe for Masila Siua, who plays football for Valley City State University, an NAIA school in North Dakota.

The 2021 Hilo High graduate enjoys the small campus feel with 1,452 students and the close bond he has developed with fellow Vikings. As fate willed it, Hilo and Valley City State University share the same nickname.

“It’s fun,” he said. “People are really nice and open to making it feel like a community. “

It helps that the 6-foot-2, 190-pound freshman kicker and punter has a handful of Hawaii freshman teammates. There are defensive back Hunter Phelps from Honolulu, linebacker Ashton Raquino from Waialua, defensive back Kai Hoekstra from Waialua, offensive linemen Zachary Gardner from Mililani and Alema Moeava and Ian Tuitama from Kapolei.

Siua had a good time getting a scholarship because her mother, Eileen Walko, was the recruiting coordinator for her sister Danielle Walko Siua.

“It made it easier for my sister to go to Notre Dame College (Ohio) for rugby,” he said. “My mom knew her way and helped me put my name there. Somehow I ended up in North Dakota.

Her sister, who graduated from Waiakea in 2014, is now an assistant coach for the Falcons, which play at the Division II level in Ohio. She was part of the All-American first team in 2017.

“She was pretty good. She was an NCAA champion, ”he said. “She still plays on league teams in Ohio.”

Siua grew up playing rugby, but also soccer and soccer. He’s a cousin of former Hilo graduate and Kansas defensive tackle Isi Holani, who died last year at the age of 24.

He was born in American Samoa and moved to the Big Island when he was 2.5 years old. When Siua became a Viking, he found a familiar face in his uncle Laveitiga Suiaunoa, Hilo’s former trainer.

Siua arrived on campus on August 2 and during training camp he got poked in the ribs because his teammates thought he didn’t look like a kicker.

“Everyone was mad at me,” he said. “They thought I was a receiver. I played catcher in high school and in defense. I injured myself as a junior in the first game.

“I was a natural football player and kicker. Hilo didn’t have a kicking coach so I watched YouTube videos to improve myself.

His long is a 62-yard field goal kicked during practice. When you can also punt, it’s easier to land a purse as a versatile player.

He is majoring in exercise science and wildlife and would like to become a track and field coach, but he is also interested in conservation.

Siua has found a comfortable fit with the North Dakota weather.

“The weather is really nice,” he said. “It’s hot in the afternoon and reminds me of Hawaii. It is cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon. In winter, if you come, bring jackets.

Siua has already given a taste of home to his mainland teammates, who come from faraway places such as Alaska, California, Texas, Minnesota, Maryland, Florida and even Australia.

“The boys from Hawaii and I bought some spam from Walmart and made some teriyaki spam and ate it downstairs,” he said. “They have normal fast food here, like McDonald’s and a lot of pizza places. The food in the cafeteria is pretty good.

In North Dakota there are some crazy state laws. It is forbidden to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on. Beer and pretzels cannot be served together at any bar or restaurant in North Dakota. It is illegal to keep an elk in a sandbox in your backyard. No one is allowed to wear a hat while dancing or at any event where there is dancing.

Siua also remains safe. The Vikings have their own bubble and don’t venture far from campus.

But above all, Siua wants to imitate her sister: to get a college degree and find a good job. Not just for him, but for his parents, including Toni Siua his father.

“I can’t wait to make my family proud,” he said of his school books. “I want to take something back. Only me and my sister went to college.

The Vikings went 5-2 last season and 7-3 in 2019. The season kicks off Thursday at home against the University of Jamestown.

Siua is focusing on schoolwork, his football homework, made a group of friends with his Viking teammates, and has been disciplined to stay safe during the pandemic.

Best of all, he’s comfortable and already doing his best to make his parents and everyone at home proud.


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