WAILUKU - It is impossible to think of Baldwin High School athletics over the last four years without Pasoni Tasini.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound University of Utah football recruit was part of 10 Maui Interscholastic League title teams and capped his career with individual and team state crowns in the last of his 13 prep seasons, at the track and field championships last month on the Big Island.
Now, Tasini is the repeat winner of The Maui News MIL Boy Athlete of the Year award, becoming the only two-time recipient of an honor first presented in 1991. As a senior, he was the MIL Defensive Player of the Year in football, the MIL Track and Field Athlete of the Year - after winning the state discus title - and a first-team MIL basketball All-Star.
Pasoni Tasini was the Maui Interscholastic League Defensive Player of the Year in football, and the league’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year, winning the state discus title. He helped Baldwin High School earn MIL championships in both sports — plus the state track and field title — and was a basketball All-Star as the Bears won the MIL crown.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
All of that hardly captures his essence, however.
The fifth of Nola and Pone Tasini's six children, he will be the first to attend college.
"That is really important," Pasoni Tasini said earlier this week.
The Maui News MIL Boy Athlete of the Year
1990-91-Jason Lopez, Baldwin
1991-92-Kalei Awai, St. Anthony
1992-93-Ray Wilhelm, Baldwin
1993-94-Carlton Okamoto, Baldwin
1994-95-Buddy Perry, Lahainaluna
1995-96-Robert Kemfort, Maui High
1996-97-Bubba McLean, St. Anthony
1997-98-Jansen Medeiros, Lahainaluna
1998-99-Shane Victorino, St. Anthony
2000-01-Kawika Kahui, Baldwin
2001-02-Ikaika Neizman and Kainoa Casco, Lahainaluna
2002-03-Akamu Aki, Baldwin
2003-04-J.J. Eno, Baldwin
2004-05-Bulla Tuzon, Baldwin
2005-06-Tye Perdido, Seabury Hall
2006-07-Manu Adolpho, Molokai
2007-08-Lake Casco, Lahainaluna
2008-09-Mana Rosa, Baldwin, and Reid Hunter, King Kekaulike
2009-10-Brock Shishido, Baldwin
2010-11-Pasoni Tasini, Baldwin
2011-12-Pasoni Tasini, Baldwin
"Hopefully I can set an example for my siblings and my younger sister. I get compliments from my older siblings, too. They let me know I am doing a good job. I just do whatever I can to make my family proud."
As soon as it became apparent that football could get him to college, the older Tasinis have been in Pasoni's ear.
"Ever since the whole scholarship thing kind of came around, they have been cracking down on me real hard," he said. "They make sure I stay in line and keep me right."
Tasini also plans to be the first in his family to go on a two-year Mormon mission, after his freshman year of college. It is a wish he says he owes to his parents.
"My mom is kind of the backbone to all that I do," Tasini said. "Most of what I do is for her, to show her appreciation for what she has done for me. My dad is important to me, he is the one who has been hard on me - discipline. He has always been there for me from the beginning, too."
As he waits for his score on the SAT, his football future hangs in the balance. If his scores don't reach the required level, he will spend his first two seasons at Snow Junior College in Utah before joining the Utes.
It is a problem that Tasini does not want his younger sister, Kisaea, to go through. She is a junior-to-be at Baldwin who plays for the volleyball team.
Pasoni Tasini said he has learned from his three older sisters and especially brother Viliami that he must pass along the family advice.
"Her grades are way better than mine, so I tell her 'Just stay on top of it,' " Pasoni said. "She just needs to train harder in volleyball if that is what she wants to do. I push her to work harder."
Tasini was part of four MIL football championships, three in track and field, two in basketball and one in volleyball.
The state track and field team title was Baldwin's first in the sport.
It is the college opportunity that Tasini prefers to talk about, however.
"I really didn't think I would make it this far," he said. "But everything started happening and now that I am (going to college) I am glad. I just thank the man above for everything he has given me. And my family, as well, for always supporting me."
Kawika Kahui was Tasini's defensive line coach at Baldwin and the MIL Boy Athlete of the Year in 2000-2001 as a junior at the school. Kahui later earned a football scholarship at San Diego State and was a member of the San Diego Chargers' practice squad before playing one season in the Arena Football League.
"He leaves big shoes to fill," Kahui said of Tasini. "There have been plenty of good athletes to come through Baldwin. Right now they have a few other kids, who in their junior and senior year were being seen by big-time colleges, so it is a pretty big deal. (Tasini) helps shine the light on the program at Baldwin. I think he does a big favor to the kids who are coming through the program."
Kahui said Tasini could be a college star as a defensive end, where the double- and triple-teams he faced in high school won't be so prevalent.
"It will be a better look, a lot better chance to be a playmaker now that it will be a one-on-one game," Kahui said. "The sky is the limit for the kid."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org