Thousands of miles away, in Fresno, California, lives a local boy who is living his dream and aspires to achieve even higher goals. Seventeen-year-old Kaleo Acfalle has potential as a junior starter on three varsity teams for the Hoover High Patriots, and each time he puts on his school jersey he proudly represents the islands.
Acfalle is the son of James and Lucy Acfalle, formerly of Lada Gardens, Dededo, and he plays basketball, football and baseball for the Patriots. He was the starting quarterback this past season, plays both forward positions for the basketball team and is currently one of the starting pitchers for the baseball team. And although it’s been more than a decade since he’s been to Guam, he hasn’t forgotten his Pacific Island heritage.
“All he listens to is island music all day. Everyone listens to rap, but he does his homework to island music,” James Acfalle, Kaleo’s dad, said via telephone from Fresno. “He’s proud to be an islander. Our whole family, we’re all proud to be islanders. As a matter of fact, when Kaleo went to the sports combine, where schools from all over California attend, he called out all the islanders for a group picture … Tongans and Hawaiians and all … it was kind of nice. We all know where our heart is.”
James Acfalle is Hawaiian-Chamorro, while Lucy Acfalle is Palauan, which makes Kaleo special as he represents three different island groups whenever he suits up.
“I just know where I come from. There are a lot of athletes out there from different islands that have a chance to get really (successful) and just seeing all the success that I could get and how far I could go, coming from a small island, … it just feels good,” said Kaleo Acfalle. “You just have to have that islander pride.”
Although Acfalle plays three sports, he loves the gridiron the most.
“It has to be football. Football and then baseball. I’ve been playing football for seven years now. At first my mom wouldn’t let me play (football) when I was younger, but once my dad started talking to me about sports, I started getting interested and I fell in love with the game of football,” Kaleo Acfalle said.
Acfalle finished the season with 14 touchdown passes and 1,572 yards passing . He completed 104 of 194 attempts and had 11 interceptions.
“Kaleo was extremely valuable to our 2014 football team. He was far and away the best and most talented (quarterback) we had,” Patriots head football coach Steve Nelson said in an email. “The divide between him and both the backup (quarterbacks) was great. In my opinion, he was the best (quarterback) in our league, though he was voted second-team All-League. We had two wide receivers voted to the All-League team who would not have been there had Kaleo not been the (quarterback).”
Nelson also believes that Acfalle could play at a higher level if he keeps up his work ethic and dedication to the team and continues his academic excellence.
“I think Kaleo can play at a four-year school. He has a great chance because academically he has done well and has plenty options in terms of schools,” said Nelson.
“(One of) the plays that stand out to me is a two-minute drill sequence late in the fourth quarter on the road, we were down by six. We ran a sequence of quick passes in which Kaleo went through his first read and then found his second read working to the sideline. (The pass was) caught and out of bounds to stop the clock,” Nelson recalled. “Then on a play when his first read was covered, both he and the (wide receiver) read the coverage and adjusted the route to an open area, complete for a first down, then he hit his best deep target on a vertical route in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game.”
“This kid is amazing, his academics are good and he’s usually like a 3.4 all the way through,” said James Acfalle. “He’s definitely a leader, I’m so proud of him and I know that I’m blessed.”
“He has been blessed with an arm to throw and we are very grateful for the Lord’s good work in him. I’m his greatest fan. Besides being a student-athlete, he is also a member of the (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and he prays with his team before every game. As parents, we don’t know what the future holds for him, but we do know that God is holding him and that is good enough for us,” said Lucy Acfalle.
At the moment, Kaleo Acfalle is focused on improving his game and helping his team get better next season.
“We’re rebuilding right now. We could’ve done a lot better, but this coming year will be the year,” Kaleo Acfalle said. “We’ve known each other for a while so there will be so much more chemistry.”
If he had a chance, what would Kaleo Acfalle do on his first day back on the island?
“First (thing) I would do is go straight to my parents’ house because that’s where all the childhood memories are,” he said. “I remember always going to Cora’s, this lady that used to sell stuff out of her house like candies and snacks and everyone used to go there.”
In the meantime, Kaleo Acfalle will continue to pursue his dream as the Patriots’ top signal caller.
“Eventually, I would want to play and make it into college. One day It would be nice to play for the pros or have a chance to at least try out. I would love to keep on playing and if I had the opportunity, I would give my all at any chance.”
[Original post at GuamPDN:Â http://www.guampdn.com/article/20150501/SPORTS/305010025/Acfalle-takes-island-pride-Fresno]