3 local boys front and center at BCS National Championship game
"I think we're more nervous than them," chuckled Howard Kaulula'au, who joined around a 100 people at a watch party at Nocturna Lounge at Restaurant Row Monday afternoon.
He and many others at the party watched Robby Toma, Kona Schwenke, and Manti Teo grow up and bonded with their families.
What a ride it has been for Notre Dame's island boys.
"The love and aloha spirit that people from back home are showing me just makes me realize how blessed you are to grow up in Hawaii," said Toma.
"Just three local boys doing fabulous things," said family friend Lyle Hosoda.
"The way they were back then is the same they are today," said Kaulula'au, who lived right next to Te'o and Toma in Laie.
"To Manti, to Robby, to we know you're the underdogs, but in our hearts your number one," he said.
Great football, fan favorites, and major hype equated to big money in the BCS National Championship Bowl game.
Analysts projected $2 billion in bets will be wagered worldwide, it cost a $1 million for a 30-second spot, and the two teams earned more than $30 million for being a part of it.
"This is so huge, everywhere you go I don't think anybody's doing any work downtown," said Hosoda.
Hosoda spent countless hours with Manti's family, cheering on the young man who would face tragedy with the death of his girlfriend and grandmother, pass on the NFL draft to finish with Notre Dame, then win nearly every defensive award.
The BCS Championship is just gravy on a golden season for a young man with the kind of character that will follow him far beyond his football career.
"Some kids just need a little bit of motivation and hopefully I was that person for them," said Te'o.
"As we all know athleticism is just one aspect of that man, so he really makes us all look inside ourselves as humans and say hey that's what we all ought to be doing," said Hosoda.
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