By Mason Kelley
Hau’oli Kikaha is proud to come from a family raised by very strong women. Growing up in Hawaii, the Washington outside linebacker was always “amazed” by his great grandmother, Elizabeth, his grandmother, Piilani, and his mother, Dawn.
“They’re just very strong women, individuals who have so much knowledge, wisdom and power,” Kikaha said.
In fact, when he changed his last name from Jamora to Kikaha last season, it was a way to honor that side of his heritage.
“(That name) comes from their bloodline, those three women,” Kikaha said. “It’s their power, their mana, their blood.”
As he prepares to return home this week for the Huskies’ season opener against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium, Kikaha thinks about those women often. He is excited for the opportunity to play for them, in front of them.
It will be the first time the senior gets the opportunity to compete in front of his great grandmother, making a special trip even more memorable.
“It’s just really cool,” Kikaha said. “I look up to her. She’s really deeply rooted in our culture and our heritage. I just love the wisdom she has.”
Kikaha has looked up to the women in his family for so long, it is strange for him to think they “look at me as someone they’re proud of.”
Elizabeth, Piilani and Dawn will make up three of the approximately 40 friends and relatives Kikaha expects to show up for the game. His brothers, Kahiapo and Kila, will also be among those in attendance.
It will be the first opportunity for Kahiapo to watch his younger brother play college football in person.
“He’s stoked, always hyped up, as a brother would be,” Kikaha said.
Then there is Kahiapo’s son, who was named after his father. The women in Kikaha’s life provide plenty of inspiration, but it is the younger Kahiapo who provides Kikaha’s motivation. He wrote Kahiapo’s name on his towel last season and always looked at his picture before games.
Kahiapo turns 4 Saturday. It is fitting his birthday coincides with Kikaha’s homecoming.
“I look at this kid’s face every day,” Kikaha said. “He is a reminder of why I need to be successful, so I’ve got to bring it.”