LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — UNLV is set to host Hawaii in the Battle of the Ninth Island tomorrow at 1 p.m. Hawaii native, Leif Fautanu, joined Tina Nguyen for 100 Yards to discuss what the rivalry means to the program and what makes the Hawaiian culture unique.
Fautanu is a sophomore center and is on the watchlist for the 2021 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award. The Rebels are 1-8 on the season.
Tina Nguyen: Sophomore offensive linemen, Leif Fautanu, joins me right now for 100 Yards. Leif, you guys are fresh off of a big win, the first one of the season. What did that first win mean to this team?
Leif Fautanu: I think for this team, we've been going through a lot, especially with all the losses. Having that first win just makes us feel that our hard work is paying off. So, I think it's a good team feeling.
Nguyen: You guys got a chance to get another win this weekend, Battle of the Ninth Island. Now, I'm not from Vegas, so I'm a newcomer. Tell me why Vegas called the "ninth island?"
Fautanu: There's a lot of locals out here. You know, a lot of local people from Hawaii move out to Vegas. So really, when I moved here, there was a lot of local energy. It's still the same as back home. I think the Battle for the Ninth Island is really cool, especially having a pineapple as a trophy.
Nguyen: Can we expect to see a lot of your family members there on Saturday?
Fautanu: Oh, yeah. I have a whole village coming out. A lot of people. You'll definitely see where my family is at.
Nguyen: Now you do come from a pretty athletic family, five siblings, and your mom and dad were also athletes. What what was growing up like in your household?
Fautanu: So everybody, you know, my household, our family is eight. So we're always competitive. So I think it was really crazy, you know, everyone's battling each other. Sometimes they pick up on, you know, I think that really helps me especially here, you know, I'm having a competitive.
Nguyen: You are on the watch list for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year. What does it mean to you to get that sort of recognition?
Fautanu: I really, really love my culture. I want to represent for anybody that I can, especially for my Samoan side, so having that honor, you know, is a blessing.
Nguyen: Lastly, tell me what makes your culture so unique and so special?
Fautanu: My culture, you know, we're very prideful as especially we're respectful, you know, with the God first, family second and whatever, whatever else out there. So, I feel like having that in our, you know, in our DNA, it really makes us really good people.