“It’s a great incentive, and we always see grades go up as a result,” observes Apolo. “Of course, some of our players excel anyway, and for them, there are national Pop Warner scholarships available—one of our Maui players qualified recently. For many of our kids, following in the footsteps of Kaluka Maiava is their goal, and we can tell our players that good academics can increase the chance of college scholarships.” Maiava attended Baldwin High School and the University of Southern California before joining the Cleveland Browns in 2009.
Apolo has presided over Maui Pop Warner since 1986. “I got involved because I was a volunteer, I’d been coaching for over 20 years — and I didn’t know what I was getting into,” observes Apolo with his trademark dry wit. Anyone that knows how seriously coaches and parents take their football here on the Valley Isle will appreciate that spending 25 years at the helm of Pop Warner is a remarkable achievement. “I really believe in the program, which is why I’m still here,” says Apolo. “We have 23 teams at all levels, with over 500 kids playing football each year. We’re making a big difference for many of Maui’s students—and their families.”