LAIE, Hawaii — The recently founded Polynesian Football Hall of Fame enshrined its first seven inductees during a special ceremony in Waikiki Jan. 23.
The next afternoon during a press conference at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the organization’s officers announced they have entered into an agreement to locate the Hall of Fame’s permanent exhibit at the PCC.
The PFHF honors the sport’s greatest players, coaches and contributors from Polynesia.
After the new exhibit is completed, tentatively scheduled for January 2015, future inductee enshrinement ceremonies will take place at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Other highlights of the PCC/PFHF agreement include developing youth and community educational initiatives.
The inaugural PFHF inductees are:
- Kurt Gouveia: Raised in Waianae, Oahu; 13-year NFL linebacker; two-time Super Bowl Champion with the Washington Redskins.
- Olin Kreutz: Raised in Honolulu; 14-year NFL center, including 13 years with the Chicago Bears; four-time NFL All-Pro
- Kevin Mawae: 16-year NFL center with three teams; eight-time NFL All-Pro
- Jack “Tihati” Thompson,: NCAA record-setting quarterback for Washington State; six-Year NFL Pro
- Ken Niumatalolo: From Laie, Oahu, quarterback for the University of Hawaii; currently head coach of the U.S. Naval Academy
- Junior Seau (deceased): 20-year NFL linebacker, including 13 years with the San Diego Chargers; 10-time NFL All-Pro
- Herman Wedemeyer (deceased): Born in Hilo, Hawaii; halfback at St. Mary’s College; Hawaii’s first consensus All-American; finished fourth in the Heisman voting (1945)
The inaugural PFHF board members are Jesse Sapolu, Ma’a Tanuvasa, Vai Sikahema, Troy Polamalu, June Jones and Reno Mahe.
Niumatalolo, Sikahema and Mahe are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“When we officially established the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame six months ago, the decision to choose Hawaii as our home was easy,” said retired San Francisco 49er great Sapolu, co-founder and chairman of the PFHF. “It was important that our home be reflective of the culture and people of Polynesia, and for us, there was only one place, the Polynesian Cultural Center.
“This is a proud and historical day for all Polynesians, and especially for Polynesian football players,” he said.
“Our Polynesian football heroes and the legacy they represent have inspired all of us who love the sport. We’re deeply honored to be the place where people will learn about their exploits and Polynesia’s history in football,” said Alfred Grace, PCC President and CEO and a former rugby scholarship student at BYU–Hawaii.
In emceeing the press conference, former BYU and NFL player Sikahema — the first Tongan to play in the NFL (for the St. Louis Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles) — praised the “special significance” of the center to him, recalling that his parents and wife, Keala, all previously worked at the PCC.
Sikahema also praised nearby Kahuku High School for regularly graduating players who go on to play professional football totally out of proportion to the size of the school and in comparison to other schools across the country.
Mike Foley currently volunteers his skills for the Polynesian Cultural Center and other outlets. ALOHA.