Multi-talented athlete succeeds on gridiron
Player displays solid work ethic
Published: Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 17:10
The definition of an athlete is one who is skilled physically, mentally and emotionally in an athletic endeavor.
Although there are plenty of great athletes in sports, some set themselves apart from others by being put into the class as playmakers — those who show up on game day ready to make a game-changing play.
Comet sophomore defensive end Niko Aumua perfectly fits the mold of an athletic playmaker.
The 6-foot-6 inch Aumua is the undisputed leader of CCC football team's defense, as he is seen everywhere on the field trying to make a play, whether it be sacking a quarterback, chasing down a player for a tackle or even catching touchdown passes while playing offense.
Simply put, Aumua does it all for the Comets, serving as the team's long snapper, gunner on special teams, wide receiver and defensive end.
"We (the Comets) are ranked top 10 in the state in every defensive statistic, and a large part of that is him," coach Alonzo Carter said. "He currently leads the team in tackles, tackles for losses and sacks. He has found a joy in making plays on defense."
Carter said he has known Aumua since his days coaching at Berkeley High School, when his team went against Aumua while he was attending Alameda High School.
Even through his playing days in high school, Aumua has been known as a playmaker, playing outside linebacker, defensive end and wide receiver.
"He was an all-conference player at both (wide receiver and defensive end) positions," Carter said. "Every time we played against Alameda, we had to game-plan against him."
Despite his success in football, Aumua didn't play the sport until his freshman year of high school. Aumua's only athletic background prior to that was playing the physical sport of rugby.
"I have been playing rugby for (many) years," Aumua said. "As far as the way I tackle in football, rugby has made me a smarter tackler."
After graduating from Alameda High School in 2008, Aumua took a year off before enrolling at Contra Costa College in 2009.
While playing on last season's 1-9 squad, Aumua played wide receiver and had troubles on and off the field that caused him to be suspended for the majority of last season.
"He sat out the majority of his first year (at CCC), as he had issues with coaches," Carter said.
When Carter was hired to coach the Comets, he changed the mentality and character of the team and Aumua as he switched his position from receiver to defensive end.
"I wanted to convert him back to defense because I felt that he better suited the position," Carter said. "I had seen the potential he had as a defensive end with his wide receiver ability."
Along with converting Aumua to a defensive end, Carter also challenged him to gain weight for his new position. Aumua responded by bulking up 35 pounds in the offseason.
"I'm glad to see his turnaround as a person and player. He is now on track to getting his A.A. degree this upcoming spring," Carter said. "He has only been playing his new position for half the season and he has already gotten offers from Division I schools such as Washington State University."
Fellow Comets respect all of Aumua's hard work and enjoy him as a teammate.
"Niko is a real cool person. He's inspiring and keeps us level-headed in the game," linebacker Stephon Cox-Gilmore said. "Just because he's talented he doesn't separate himself from the team as he is able to talk to us."
Aside from football, Aumua's interests include spending time with family and taking speech and drama classes.
"I took drama in my first semester last fall and I have been taking it ever since," Aumua said. "So far I have done two plays, the ‘Michael Jackson Tribute' and ‘Josephine's Pirates.' At the end of this month I am going to be in the play ‘Sweeney Todd'."
Aumua has high hopes of attending a Division I college after leaving CCC to continue to play football and try to make the NFL.
"It has been a pleasure watching him grow and seeing his progress," Carter said. "If he continues to stay focused we may see him play on Sundays."
Contact Malcolm Lastra at firstname.lastname@example.org.