HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Saturday not only marks the return of Rainbow Warrior football, it will also serve as the return of defensive player Penei Pavihi after an injury sidelined him last year.
Looking ahead to 2020, the American Samoa native is motivated by a picture in his locker, something the new coaching staff installed for every player.
“The coaches asked us to bring a picture of somebody who motivates you and they’ll print out the picture to put it in your locker.” Pavihi told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “For me it was my mom , she’s done a lot for me and i really like that about this year, we put up pictures of people who motivate you and before everytime we go out to the field, we would always turn around and look at that picture, think about them, you know just an early motivation at five a.m. just to get the day started.”
In 2019, Pavihi was gearing up to be a key feature of the UH defense before a knee injury forced him to watch from the sidelines, but his mom was there to guide him through the road back to the field.
“She just sat me down and talked to me about how I would take this?” Pavihi said. “Would I take it bitterly or will I take it and learn from it and just be around the boys and everything because she knew how i was, i wasn’t really going to talk and everything, but she really helped me through that first step.”
Recovery took a toll on the redshirt junior, but relied on his faith and football family.
“It’s been hard for me mentally, just to accept it, but once I found that thing, I started digging deeper into my faith, you know everything happens for a reason.” Pavihi said. “All of the hard work in the training room, physical therapy, being around the boys and the coaches you know they helped me get back on my feet and now I’m back on the field.”
On top of returning to football, Pavihi will be taking the field this season at a new position.
The linebacker turned defensive end was asked to make the switch this season to utilize every weapon the ‘Bows have at their disposal — an adjustment at first, the 6’3″ 245 pound Pavihi is now ready for action.
“Whatever is best for the team, i’m down to do anything, but just adjusting to it was the hardest thing for me, but i’m ready to roll.” Pavihi said.
The position switch also comes with a new leadership role on the defense, whether it be by his actions or his words, something the soft spoken Pavihi is ready to take on — if needed.
“Compared to 2018, I feel like I’m more vocal now, just anything that will help the team, if it’s things that an opponents doing I can just call it out and everything.” Pavihi said. “Yeah, just don’t look at me for a pre game speech.”
Pavihi and the 'Bows are set to kickoff against Fresno State at 1:30 p.m. Hawaii time, this Saturday on Spectrum Sports pay-per-view.