Maiava Gets Motivated Working With Maui’s Youth
By Rodney S. Yap
Kids motivate Kaluka Maiava, especially the local one’s who woke up early Saturday morning to run with him.
“They could be at the beach or sleeping in but they are here,” said the former Baldwin High School and University of Southern California linebacker moments before joining a group of intermediate school kids at the HardNaks High-Performance Speed Camp. “Everything is positive and motivating.”
Maiava signed autographs, T-shirts, and talked to more than 50 youngsters and their parents following a 90-minute HardNaks’ speed and agility workout at the Maui Tropical Plantation field.
Fresh off a vacation, the Cleveland Browns linebacker and only Maui born-and-raised athlete in the NFL, said he finds energy and inspiration in kids who are focused on bettering themselves.
“Guys think I’m on a different level being in the NFL, but when I come home to this kind of stuff and see all these young kids all energized and stuff, it motivates me and helps me to refocus and recharge my battery.”
Maiava was also reunited with his brother, Kai, and high-school teammate Cody Nakamura, who launched HardNaks and its weekly concept a year ago to Maui’s youth. Maiava helps Nakamura coach the kids whenever he’s home and plans to continue to support his friend and former teammate.
“He’s like a brother to me and I’m happy to see his business doing good, with more and more kids every year, and hopefully this will turn into a really big thing in the future.”
Saturday was extra special for 13-year-old Kayla Maka of Wailuku.
After all, being partnered with Maiava was the last thing Maka anticipated when her dad, Simeon, suggested she attended the high-performance speed camp.
“It was actually really great, it’s not every day you get to run with an NFL player, it’s a privilege,” said the Hawaiian Homes resident, who couldn’t stop smiling when asked about her good fortunate.
Ironically, Maka was the only intermediate-school female to attend on Saturday.
“Because I’m an athlete and I want to get into shape so going to a speed and agility camp is really good for me,” said a smiling Maka. “It was really exciting for me because I was taught by Kaluka Maiava — an NFL player.”
Maiava agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth just under $2.3 million when he signed his original contract in 2009. Cleveland has until March 9 to resign the linebacker.
The 6-foot, weakside linebacker has 131 career tackles, including 97 solo, 4.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. He finished his fourth NFL season with a career high 51 tackles. He started 12 games and played in 14, finishing with two sacks and two forced fumbles. He had a game-high nine tackles, including five solo in the Browns’ 7-6 win over San Diego in Week 8 of the 2012 season.
“I felt like I had a decent year this past year and the coaches seem to like me. Every year you learn and roll with the punches. I feel like I’m getting better and more comfortable with things.”
Maiava’s agent is Lenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports.
“We’re definitely talking to teams, so if Cleveland decides to resign me that’s great, I love Cleveland. If not, we’ll see what happens.
“Right now I’m just enjoying being back home and training to make sure I’m ready when I do get the call for whatever team I go to.”
Maiava plans to workout with his brother Kai, training for a shot to play in the Japan Football League, and cross-train with mixed martial artist Kendall Grove.
Having survived the frigid cold of Berea, Ohio, Maiava laughs when Mauians complain about the recent cold temperatures — 60 degrees the last two mornings.
“Last night I slept on my back porch, with the fans on full speed it was so hot, haha, it’s boiling over here,” he said. “I’ve seen cold.”
Maiava said he’s walking around at 240 pounds now, having taken some time off. His offseason plan is to get down to 225.
“I feel comfortable with the physical part of the game, but everything in the BFL is about speed. Speed kills in the NFL. I want to be quicker and be able to last all game.”