Pacific Northwest News
Wahine Defensive End for the Tacoma Majestics
Interviewed by Rochelle delaCruz
Nunu Iereneo plays defensive end with The Tacoma Majestics in the Women’s Spring Football League. I contacted Nunu for an interview and below is her story.
RdC: Tell us about your Hawai`i connection – where you were born, grew up and went to school.
Nunu: My name is Waioneokeanuenue S. Iereneo. I was born and raised on O`ahu, Hawai`i and grew up mostly all over O`ahu. I started in Kalihi, then went to Waipahu and ended up in `Aiea. I graduated from `Aiea High School (Go Na Ali`i s!)
RdC: How did you find out about the women’s football league and what made you decide to play in it?
Nunu: I started playing defensive end in 1999. The first time that I heard about a women’s football league was when I was working in `Ewa , Hawai`i . One of my co-workers was talking about going to practice so I asked her – oh yeah? For what sport? She was like “women’s football.” At first I didn’t wanna believe her. So I asked her if they were still looking for women and she said, “Yeah, come out tonight.”
When I tried out for the team, I had a blast and couldn’t wait for the next practice. One of my friends was telling me, “Are you crazy? You can get hurt!” Then I told her that growing up watching my brothers and cousins playing football, I just wanted to put on the pads and play with them. I mean when I was small, we used to play the “two-hand touch” kine football. But now I can put on the pads and hit someone. Plus why should you not play? It’s a blast!
RdC: Does Hawai`i have a team in the women’s league?
Nunu: Right now Hawai`i doesn't have a team. Hopefully they will in a year or two. I played pro football for about four years with a Hawai`i team. The first time that Hawai`i had a team I think was in 1996 or 1997, called "Hawaiian Waves". Then later on they switch their name again to "Hawaii Storms." In 1998 another person formed a different team and they were called the "Island Pride". That's the team that I played for. The team didn't last that long; we only played one game and that was against the Hawaii Storms. The next year, the owner of the Hawaii Storms wanted to combine the two teams and just make one team to represent Hawai`i. So in a couple of months we were the "Hawaii Legends." The Hawaii Legends only lasted for three or four years in the WFNL (Women’s Football National League.) Right now there’s no team in Hawai`i but I don't know for what reasons. I think the owner just gave up on us.
RdC: Did you move to the Pacific Northwest to play football?
Nunu: No, I moved because my family was here, and I knew if I didn’t like it, then I’ll go back home (Sweet oh Hawaii!) but I heard there was a football league up here.
RdC: How do people respond when you tell them you play pro football?
Nunu: It's funny when I talk to people you know, telling them that I play football, the first response is, "Oh you play the ‘powder puff’ kine football? I tell them no, and then they come back with the other response "oh flag football?" I'm like, “Oh No. I'm talking about putting the pads, the helmet, the whole shebang.” Then they want to know what kind of league it is and I tell them that it's a women's pro football league. They’d be like "Wow! do you guys get paid?" or "Can I get your autograph?” Sometimes I get a response like "Let's see what you got.” This is the funniest one, especially with the men at work. We can be talking and stuff like that, and if someone comes over and makes trouble, my co-worker would say something like "You better watch out. She plays football and she's bigger than you" Some people can be so funny at times.
RdC: What’s the best thing about playing for the Tacoma Majestics?
Nunu: The best thing about playing with the Tacoma Majestics is meeting new people and different nationalities. The Tacoma Majestics is a strong and solid team, and I'm happy that I'm part of a solid team. Another good thing is that my team mate who played with me in Hawai`i got stationed up here in Seattle, and now we’re playing on the same team again. The name of my friend who's playing with me is Katisha. In Seattle she's goes by "Tai", but in Hawaii we called her "Trigga".
RdC : What’s the most difficult thing?
Nunu: To be honest, the most difficult thing for me is trying to make each and every practice, also to learn every play and to understand more about my position. Oh yeah, and to try to stay in shape.
RdC: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Nunu: I would like to mahalo my family and friends for supporting and encouraging me to keep up the good work. To my number one fans, my mom and my son, I love you guys. Also to the Tacoma Majestics, thank you for letting me be part of a solid team. To all the islanders out there in Washington, come out and support our team (especially da "tita"). I know we all like to watch the NFL, but wait till you watch women play…You'll have a blast!
To find out the schedule and more about the Tacoma Majestics, visit their website at www.tacomamajestics.com. And look for the number 54 jersey. That’s Nunu Iereneo!
Islanders in Montana?
By Patrick Naughton
Wow laulau, what excitement when I got my first copy of the NWHIT and the invitation from Rochelle to pen a few lines about nā kama`āina in Montana. So aloha from the kolohe haole in Butte, Montana.
Yes, we get Hawaiians and Hawai`i islanders in Montana. The U.S. Census reports that there were 529 Native Hawaiians (and `uku plenty kama `āina) here in 2000 but this is a big state so we are scattered. The nearest one to me that I know lives 60 miles south of here and is the football coach at Western Montana College but there are probably others closer. I know that there is an informal `ohana in Kalispell (up near Glacier National Park ) too, where John DeNeeve, one of my hanabata friends from Mānoa Valley is a school counselor.
What do we locals do in Montana? We drive many miles just to kau kau sushi. In the four years I've lived here, I have discovered where the best Korean food is (Great Falls), the best sushi (Missoula) and where the best sashimi stay (Billings). Unfortunately the macnuts come from Central America, the Chinese food is questionable, and the ika, li hing mui, and other onolicious stuffs have to be imported from Las Vegas (where lucky they get Longs and ABC stores). And of course care packages from home are always welcome. I tried to introduce my co-workers to ika, even the chocolate kine from Big Island Candy, wasabi macnuts, and mochi but thankfully they don't like them, so more for me.
All the Montana haoles question my sanity for moving to Montana and sometimes when its 30º below or the smoke is thick in the summer, I wonder why I’m here, when even my keikis live in California. But then I remember that even though my salary is half what it was in Hawai`i, my mortgage is one-quarter of what it was in Mililani. And when I buy enough food from Safeway, I can earn mileage to fly home and mooch off my `ohana in Kailua, Kāne`ohe and Hilo. (Pat says that Safeway is in frequent flyer partnership with one of the major airlines. ~RdC)
So the next time all you NWHIT readers out there in rainy Seattle feel sorry for yourselves, remember that further east of you - high up in the Rockies - stay your poor country cousins. But come visit and we can kau kau teriyaki buffalo and elk. (And don't worry, dear esteemed editor, I not goin' mention that the last time we saw each other in Hilo, we both had fo’ real brown hair.)
Pat Naughton grew up in Mānoa Valley and graduated from Roosevelt (’62) and UH (’66). He is a Vietnam vet and earned a PhD at the University of the West Indies. In 1980 he returned to UH as a faculty member in Tropical Agriculture. He moved to Hilo as Dean and then Provost of Hawai`i Community College. The best thing he did was bring Rochelle delaCruz home on faculty exchange to help Hawai`i CC start learning communities. Since then, Pat has had other positions, including his current one as Assistant Director of Development at Montana Technical University.
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