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Polynesian Football Hall of Fame inducts second class

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Recent Heisman winner Marcus Mariota visited the Polynesian Culture Center along with Polynesian football royalty for the dedication of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Jan. 24. The second class to be inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame was honored with an enshrinement ceremony following the dedication. “This is a significant moment and historic day for all who love Polynesia and football. We hope this will allow us to share with future generations the incredible journey and impact of Polynesian football players,” said Football Hall of Fame Chairman and Founder Jesse Sapolu. Prominent players such as: Jesse Sapolu, Reno Mahe, Manti Te’o, and Vai Sikahema attended. However, the player that attracted the most attention during the events was this year’s Heisman winner Mariota. Mariota was the first Polynesian player to win the Heisman while leading the Oregon Ducks to the College National Championship game. Friday night, Jan. 23, Mariota received the inaugural Polynesian College Player of the Year Award. Fans waited throughout the ceremonies to take their picture with the Heisman winner or get his autograph.The dedication ceremony included speeches from some of the association’s board members, including Jesse Sapolu, before the opening of the Hall of Fame exhibit with a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the dedication the 2015 inductees to the Hall of Fame were honored in an enshrinement ceremony. Each of the inductees received a Hall of Fame jacket and ring. The class of 2015 includes: Luther John Elliss, Manase Jesse Sapolu, Raymond Frederick Schoenke, Mosiula Faasuka Tatupu, Mark Pulemau Tuinei, and Russell Ross Francis. “We are here today to celebrate their accomplishments, they are the greatest Polynesian football players in their era and our,” said Vai Sikahema, who sits on the Board of Directors. All of the players had impressive college and NFL careers, including a number of Super Bowl winners. Each inductee expressed gratitude and excitement about the historic event and emphasized the impact that these events have on the younger generation. “To all the young people here today, this is really about you, hopefully giving you a dream and casting a vision; set some goals, believe, dream, go for it,” said Elliss, who played his college ball at the University of Utah before entering the NFL where he played for the Detroit Lions.Other inductees echoed Elliss comments about the impact the Hall of Fame will have on the younger generations, while also talking at length about the Polynesian spirit and the impact it has had on American Football. “This is what being Polynesian is all about. It’s the warriors heart, it’s the way you focus and strive to be the best you can be,” said Sapolu.The Hall of Fame exhibit is located near the main entrance of the PCC and is now open to the public. It has an impressive display of the now two classes of Hall of Famers, complete with video profiles.Uploaded Jan. 29, 2015
Writer: Matthew Roberts