Depending on which coach you ask, Malakai Fakahua is know as The Reverend or The General, on the Dixie High football squad, and has set the bar high for himself. Expecting nothing but his best the young senior puts in the work and holds strong to the idea that nothing will come easy. “If you want something, you have to work for it.”
Going to practice and working as hard as he does is a part of Malakai’s nature. While others are still fast asleep the middle linebacker is heading off to work to start his day by unloading the truck at Chick-fil-A. Once he’s gotten a few hours of work in, he is off to the school gym to lift before its time to get ready for first period. “I used to work until 7:30 but since we are in football season I leave work with enough time to get my morning lifting in,” he states. “After school we practice from about 6pm to 9:30pm then I head home and get my homework done.”
Beginning at 6pm with game film, Malakai knows it is a vital opportunity to increase his overall football IQ. While simply watching film can be beneficial on the surface, the young man understands that there can be even greater benefit beyond watching, and so he dives in and studies the film. “I really enjoy the film aspect of football because I can learn how to breakdown a teams offence. It’s something that our coach has passed down to us. By learning how to do that on film makes it easier and translates directly to the field. At that point, you recognize the formations and know how to respond.”
“For Malakai, it just becomes a matter of reaction time for him,” says Nale Fakahua, Malakai’s father. “Starting varsity as a sophomore it was scary for us at first because he was just a little guy. But as he’s grown and watching how natural he is on the field, how instinctive he is, because of how much film he watches, we quickly went from being nervous to excited.”
Some athletes in general are concerned about highlights, Malakai one who is concerned about learning how to improve his game. “His is constantly studying tape on his own. I mean he is always watching film,” shares dad. “I love film,” Malakai follows.
A driving force for Malakai this year as a returning senior was learned from his experience early on with the team as a sophomore. To be part of a team that would go on to take the state championship meant, for him, that he had earned the right to compete. To have the opportunity to start made it all the sweeter but it was definitely a learning process and a fight to get there. “
“We started the season off 0-5 and we were getting killed in the preseason. I remember, once we got to region play before we played Desert Hills, we had a team meeting and that was when Ammon [Takau] and Jaxon [Davis] called a team meeting and said, ‘If we don’t pull our stuff together we are not even going to make it’ and that was when we really started listening and we won every single game after that and took state.”
“I think that its one of my roles this year is to show my teammates what the seniors did for me as a sophomore,” expresses Malakai. “They loved me and they really took me in, made me feel like I belonged.” The spirit of adopting the underclassmen, and making them feel like part of the team, not only helped when they needed to come together most, but set a pattern for their peers to follow.
Gummy Bears! As far as pre-game rituals or superstitions go, Malakai has to have a bag of gummy bears. “I eat half of it like 15min before the game,” he admits. “Then at half time I eat the other half. It has to be a certain pack, Black Forest, in the green and blue bag.” Ask him what he would do if was not the EXACT Black Forest brand and the Fakahua’s leave nothing to chance. “Costco, we get a case at the begining of the season.” The Fakahua’s ensure they never have to discover what if.
Before every game since his junior year Malakai offers a prayer with his teammates, hence his nickname, The Reverend. One verse of LDS scripture that has stood out for Malakai ever since it was first shared among the night before their championship game is found in D&C 104:82 “And inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful and call upon my name, behold, I will give you the victory.”
Once high school is over Fakahua intends on serving an LDS mission, something that has never been a question or up for debate with him. He hopes to be able to play football at the collegiate level. “That’s the dream, to play football in college.”
Thinking ahead and preparing for life beyond high school Malakai understands education will be valuable moving forward. “Professionally I think I would enjoy Physical Therapy or Sports Psychology. I think I would enjoy that because that is similar to what my dad does for me and so I would love to help kids with that.”
“I am really proud of who he is becoming,” says Kim, Malakai’s mother. “The example he has become, to rise above the pressures these kids have to go through now a days, knowing he always goes for what he wants, it means a lot as a parent.”
Getting to know Malakai you see in him a quiet humility. He is a natural leader and one that others will most certainly find easy to follow, always knowing they will be lead in the right direction. Malakai knows who he is. He understands what he wants in life, and is firmly grounded in the principles of his faith, his family, and always seeking to be the best version of himself. That is who humble leaders are. “I am a son of God. Religion is a big part of my life. I strive to be a hard worker, someone who is loving and caring and understanding of others.” • HSSI