HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For more than a decade, the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance's annual combines have helped thousands of local prep athletes improve their chances of playing collegiate sports.
The group's influence -- and impact -- have been undeniable. College coaches from around the country have attended the event, and the video results circulate in coaching circles in programs near and far. So when the PIAA shut down operations earlier this year, citing financial reasons, executive director Doris Sullivan tasked former Hawaii defensive back Kenny Patton with continuing that mission.
"The biggest part about exposure, just like when Doris was doing it, is about making sure kids are getting accurate testing results," said Patton, who now conducts speed training for prep and collegiate athletes. "Making sure they can see, from freshman, sophomore, junior year that they're progressing."
For underclassmen around the state like Challen Fa'amatau, a junior running back form Farrington, athletic progression may one day make a life-changing difference. He's one of dozens of athletes who spend hours a week training with Patton, all of them with collegiate opportunities in mind.
"I just hope that I get some coach's attention, and some great exposure," said Fa'amatau. "Maybe I can pursue my dreams and go to college, and maybe go to a college that I really want to go to," he added, emphasizing with intonation the benefits that having college choices can bring.
Patton's approach with prep players have resulted in choices for athletes aplenty; Vavae Malepeai will attend USC on scholarship this fall, and he may eventually be joined there by Saint Louis junior Tua Tagovailoa, the state's most recruited prospect in the class of 2017.
"It's a great experience, because I get to see where I'm at with my 40, my pro agility, all of these things that we've worked hard on with Coach Kenny," said Tagovailoa.
When Tagovailoa and the rest of the athletes test at the Hawaii Football Combine on May 21, they'll be doing so with some high-tech timing devices; the same instruments used to test 40 times at the NFL Combine will be employed on the field at Saint Louis School, helping athletes get more accurate readings on their times.
"It's important to them so that college coaches know exactly how fast they are, because that's what the game has evolved to, is speed," said Patton. "We want to show that the state of Hawaii is fast, and we belong at the next level."
To learn more about the Hawaii Football Combine, or to sign up, go to www.pattonsportsperformance.com and click on the tab that says "sign up."