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Athlete of the Week: Kali Niupalau (Nampa)
A true brick wall on the Bulldogs line, Niupalau is taking every opportunity thrown at him at the varsity level
Published: 9/16/2020 1:43:19 PM

Name: Kali Niupalau
School: Nampa
Grade: Senior
Sport: Football
Position: Right guard

Niupalau, a 6-foot-1, 300-pound All-State guard for the Bulldogs, led the Nampa offensive line to 334 yards rushing and over 400 yards of total offense last Friday against Columbia.  

How did you first get interested in your sport?

I always liked playing sports when I was younger. I first got interested in football when I was 11 years old playing for optimist. This was the first time I played in a league and tackle football. 

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from high school sports?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from high school sports is you have to work hard to achieve success. Working hard on and off the field, it’s not just being great at football but also being a good person and working together with my team. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received was when my lineman coach told me, “nothing is personal and have thick skin.” Sometimes he would yell at me and I would get down on myself, thinking that I wasn’t good enough and I was failing him. But he told me this so that I could be a better athlete, take the criticism and do better.

What coaches or teachers have made the biggest impact on your athletic career?

Coach Dunn has had the biggest impact on my athletic career. Coach Dunn is the lineman coach and I’ve been with him since my sophomore year. Coach Dunn does not settle for less, he always pushes me to do more and to do better. He sees my potential and helps me get there.

What has been your favorite high school memory so far?

My favorite high school memory was my sophomore year when I was playing JV football had the chance to dress down for a varsity playoff game. There were three of us from the JV team that got to do it. We even got a little playing time and I was so excited and nervous, but it was fun.

Which teammates have you really connected with during high school?

I always try to connect with everyone on the team and I don’t have any problems with any of them. But if I had to choose, I’ve really connected with the lineman on both offense and defense. I have two guys that we’ve played together and we’re good friends on and off the field: Mason and Braxton. I like competing with them because we help each other out, especially being next to them on the line and we push each other to do better.

Is there anyone in your family who have helped you get to where you are today?

My dad taught me to work hard on and off the field. He works hard to take care of me and my family and I see that and I want to apply that to football and to life. My mom is my biggest fan and she’s taught me to never give up even when it’s hard and when it hurts and when I don’t want to do it anymore.  She’s the one that is always encouraging me to move forward and to get up and keep going. 

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

 Most people don’t know that I like to do traditional Polynesian dancing. My siblings and cousins perform for luaus and family functions.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

 This season I am looking forward to actually playing this season and grateful that we are and playing for the state championship! Great way to end high school would be to win state with a great coaching staff and a team that I’ve competed with throughout high school. 


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