World-traveler ends up at CWU

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Glendal Tautua, Staff Reporter

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Vili Toluta’u, born and raised in Maui, Hawaii has spent most of his life playing rugby.

For some it is a hobby, other’s just a game — but for Vili, rugby was passed down by members of his family.

“I would just follow my brother around,” Vili said, recalling his days on his home island. “I was [too] overweight for football, so I’d just follow my brother and friends to play touch rugby.”

Vili picked up rugby out of admiration for his older brother. He witnessed his brother going  on rugby tours with the Olympic Beach Club, which made him curious as to what rugby was about.

“It made me take notice of rugby and made me ask about the history of rugby,” Toluta’u said. I wanted to know what position my dad played and he played open-side flank, so I went with open-side flank.”

Vili started playing with a local club called  Maui Warriors but it wouldn’t be long before his talents outshone those around him and gave him the opportunity to see the world.

At 16, Vili already started to receive phone calls to be recognized as a high school all-american.

He recalls his dad feeling uneasy about the attention Vili was receiving, because it seemed a little too good to be true.

“At first my dad didn’t like it,” Vili said, laughing. “He didn’t believe it was true until I got my first tour with the
high school All-Americans to Las
Vegas.”

Vili’s traveling tours stint did not stop there. The more Vili traveled, the more attention he gained and before long, he was playing everywhere.

After the Vegas 7’s Tournament, the high school All-American team chose him to play in England for another tournament.

After traveling to England, at 18-years-old, the all-American team took Vili on a South American  tour where they played in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina.

“It was hard,” Vili said. “I had to balance all of these things with school, work and the other sports I was playing.”

Although it was a struggle, Vili graduated from Baldwin High school in Maui before landing in Minnesota to play for Metropolis at Spearhead Academy, where he played from 2012-2013.

After a year in Minnesota, the All-American U20 (under 20 years old) team called Vili to join them for a tour in France for the junior world rugby cup.

This is where Vili met Tony Pacheco who, at the time, was the head coach for Central Washington University’s rugby team.

“He offered me a scholarship and I said yes,” Vili said. “I was excited to play here, but I was also excited to be a flight away from home.”

While  traveling, touring and playing the game he loves were great experiences, Vili acknowledges that it’s not always the easiest occupation.

“The hardest part was calling home while out of the country. I had to use Facebook and it didn’t work often,” Vili said. “I missed my family and the food back home.”

While being on the road to pursue his athletic dream was hard and rewarding, Vili appreciates the platform and opportunities rugby has provided him.

“Rugby is what’s giving me the opportunity to get my education,” said Vili. “I’ll stick to rugby until I can’t play anymore, but when the time comes, I’ll have my degree.”

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World-traveler ends up at CWU