Clinic Serves as Homecoming for former Warriors

Melila Purcell
Melila Purcell

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

Warrior football coaches, and former players are in American Samoa this weekend for the first of its kind football clinic. Hundreds of kids are sharpening their skills, but it means much more than just running drills for a couple of instructors.

The guest instructors are all of Samoan decent. A couple of them were born and raised there, so this is a time to go home and give back.

For kids in American Samoa, football can be a way out. For former warriors Mel Purcell and Reagan Mauia, it's a way back.

"I'm excited to go back home," said Purcell, now a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns.

"I never been back since I left in 95," said Mauia, a running back for the Miami Dolphins. "For me to go back as the person i am today, very grateful."

The two -- among the group in Pago Pago for the inaugurual June Jones American Samoa Football Academy. Both used football to work their way from humble beginnings, to the NFL. And now that they've made it, they want to teach the kids of their home what they've learned.

"Back home, we hardly had any NFL players or any camps to where people come down, to help out the kids on the island," said Purcell.

"It's gonna be so great for Samoa to have these superstars come back and be so influential," said Warriors coach Greg McMackin.

The academy plans to be back every year, giving Samoan kids a greater opportunity. The small island of 60,000 had 8 players in the NFL in 2007. Despite that, Purcell says he only went to one camp growing up -- by Joe Salavea.

"I told myself, I wanna be like his position where i can share my experiences with the kids of American Samoa," said Purcell.

"it'll just be a great homecoming for me," said Mauia.

"I'm just happy to go back home, visit some family, and teach the kids a little of what i know," said Purcell.

KHNL sports director Jason Tang is in Pago Pago, covering the clinic. Watch his reports in the coming weeks.