Being a part of a Division I football team is not an easy task. Senior defensive lineman Havea Lasike (San Jose, Calif.) will be the first to admit that. He will also be the first to admit that the experience has made him stronger and ready to take on the world.
“You have to learn to never give up and fight your way through obstacles and adversity,” Lasike said. “The fact that I overcame everything to get here. The fact that I had this chance. It’s all great.”
Lasike started his collegiate career at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., where he earned first-team all-Northern California Football Association honors after posting 81 tackles his sophomore season. He was tied for eighth in the NCFA in sacks with nine and was a part of 14 tackles for loss. He was named the team defensive MVP after leading the Owls to a 9-2 record and the Silicon Valley Bowl title.
“Foothill was good. I had guidance from my older brother and my coaches had a huge impact on me,” Lasike said. “They were Tongan and Samoan guys, so it was cool. They could put me in check.”
While at Foothill College, Lasike caught the attention of the Utah State coaches and started working toward securing him to be an Aggie.
“He was one of the top defensive tackles out of the junior colleges, so we were lucky to get him,” defensive line coach Frank Maile said. “He does a great job for us.”
Early on during his Utah State career, Lasike experienced first-hand the difficulties of transferring from junior college to the Division I level.
“You can’t take a day off. You can’t take a play off,” Lasike said. “If you’re injured or tired in junior college, you could decide for yourself if you wanted to go to practice or not, that is not the case now.”
To be involved in Utah State football takes an incredible level of dedication and commitment to the game, the team and the program. There is so much involved in the process that players and coaches have to make it their top priority.
“Meetings, the intensity, the long days; it’s hard,” Lasike said. “There are a lot of hours you put in here, unlike junior college where if you wanted to skip practice you could skip it.”
Between keeping a handle on football as well as school, Lasike is also married and has to look out for his wife, Crystal.
“Being married is pretty tough too,” Lasike said. “I have to handle all of this along with my wife and making sure she’s okay.”
It’s alright though, Lasike said he feels like he has a grasp on things and has figured out how to maintain the balance.
“I never give up. I have a great work ethic, and I always do my best. If it isn’t my best then I’ll give you the very best of my worst,” Lasike said.
Lasike refuses to give up. He will do whatever it takes to succeed and carry the honor of being a part of Utah State football.
“Your name is on your back where you carry the name of your family. Your name is on the front where you carry the name of your university,” Lasike said. “That’s what it’s all about. This is a Division I team.”
It’s no secret that the Utah State football program has been growing and developing and succeeding over the last few seasons. For this year’s seniors, it feels good to have been a part of turning the program around and making a statement.
“It feels good to become that team that people look up to. I don’t want to be cocky or anything, but we’re getting there. The talent that we have on this team is way better than it has ever been,” Lasike said. “Not everyone can say they played for not just a good, but a great Division I football team, an uprising football team. I’m not saying we’re the top dogs, but we’re a powerhouse.”
Like so many players, Lasike firmly believes his football experience is what helped force him to grow up. The lessons he learned and trials he went through have made him stronger and more ready to face the world.
“The way coach Andersen handles us and puts us first, the way our coaches take care of us and the way we take care of our own responsibilities, those experiences have turned us from boys to men,” Lasike said.
Lasike is one of many Polynesian players on the Utah State team. The coaching staff has made that demographic a priority when it comes to recruiting goals. Having so many teammates that come from a similar background has helped Lasike.
“It feels good to have people around who are like you. There’s a big respect for your elders in our culture and that carries over here. Being around all the Polys teaches the other guys on the team that same respect. It teaches us to work toward what we want and create the competition,” Lasike said.
While he has high respect for his teammates as well as authority, Lasike also likes to have a good time on the field. He has a very outgoing personality and isn’t afraid of what others may think.
“I’m a happy guy. I like to keep the group happy during the games and practice. I’ll jump around. When it’s time to get down to business I keep it calm,” Lasike said. “If someone messes up, I’m quick to call them out, so if I mess up then the rest of the guys are quick to call me out. I’m an outspoken person. Whatever is in my thoughts, I’ll say it out loud.”
Maile said he appreciates what Lasike brings to the team both on and off the field.
“It’s a new journey every single day with him. He has a great personality. He kind of brings the life to the party. He works hard and does a great job and does everything we ask him to do,” Maile said. “He’s the life of the defensive line, both with his personality and what he brings to the field.”
Lasike will graduate from Utah State in December with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Eventually, he plans to return home to California where he hopes to be a coach.
Megan Allen writes for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company