According to the NCAA, only six percent of high school athletes go on to play in college. Countless hours, dollars, and energy are spent by high school athletes and their parents all in hopes to be able to play at the next level.
Orem High football coach, Jeremy Hill, runs a successful program with multiple boys with college offers. “We’ve got one committ, who is Puka, and we got eight other kids on our roster with offers,” said Hill.
Hill also understands that the pursuit to win state championships and receive college scholarships is a lifelong commitment. “These 2019 kids, I’ve coached most of them from somewhere since the 3rd to 7th grades, so I started coaching them at a young age trying to teach them that that’s what it takes is doing stuff year round.”
One particular Orem athlete, Puka Nacua, is committed to play football at the University of the Southern California. Nacua has a brother making his way in the NFL and another brother who plays wide receiver at the University of Utah. This means that Nacua’s mother knows what it takes to play at the next level.
“Like, we didn’t just go from here and jump to here ya know? Like, it was a literal process, It takes a lot of hard work, on both parts, on parents and on players,” said Penina Nacua.
Puka and other Orem players spend hours in the off-season lifting, working with position coaches and traveling to camps around the country to perfect their skills. Puka also spends hours after practice to keep on top of his game.
“In season, I try to workout outside of our football practice as much as I can just to keep my footwork at top point,” said Puka Nacua.
Time is not the only thing sacrificed. Financial sacrifices also have to be made by families in order for kids to pursue their dreams.
“My mom made huge sacrifices, having not to plan other family trips in order for me to go out and look at the college I did too,” said Nacua.
“I just don’t think people really understand what people put into this,” Hill said. “They show up on a Friday night, they watch a three, three and a half hour game, ya know. They got an opinion on everything, not knowing all the kids have gone through, all the coaches have gone through to prepare for it.”
Despite all the money, time, and energy spent, Penina said she would do it all over again for her boys to play football after high school.