Sunday, August 23, 2009

Voice of Experience

Sheila Alofaituli uses a strong voice to carry her message of unity, leadership, family and character.

She brought that message to South Albany High School athletes and parents at the school Thursday evening.

The mother of Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao, Alofaituli stressed to the athletes (specifically the football players) the importance of sticking up for your teammates and not forgetting football is a team game.

Alofaituli has been the unofficial team mom for the Beavers in her son’s three-plus seasons at Oregon State. She also served in the same role for Lyle’s high school and junior college teams in California.

She calls the players on Lyle’s teams her “boys” or “sons” and saw her involvement as an assignment from God.

“I had to teach my boys they had to love each other as brothers,” she said.

Alofaituli had moved to Portland when Moevao came to Corvallis. But in one short trip to Corvallis she ran into OSU players at three different locations. She knew then she was meant to move to Corvallis and play a bigger role with the team.

You can have good athletes on your team, Alofaituli said, “but if you lack unity within the team ... you have no need to go out on the field because you just whooped your own (butt).”

Oregon State is recognized by some media as having the most family oriented football program in the country, and she takes pride in that.

Bringing to light her Samoan heritage, Alofaituli recalled the Beavers’ September home game against Hawaii last season. She boarded the team buses before the players headed to a hotel the night before the game.

There, she stressed “no fear” against what she expected to be a united team in Hawaii. Oregon State won the game, and “no fear” became a theme of the season.

Alofaituli used the story of David and Goliath to describe her son overcoming the belief that he was too short to play Division I football. Being strong means standing your ground when everything happening around you tells you to “pack up your bags and go home.“

She talked about the spring of Moevao’s senior year of high school. Alofaituli strongly encouraged her son to spend the spring practicing with the players who would be his junior college teammates in the fall. He took over the starting job early in the next season and went on to earn a scholarship at Oregon State.

“You can’t beat Goliath if you’re playing video games in the spring,” she said.

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