Pop Warner: Anahu-Ambrosio to represent Big Island at All-American game
KAILUA-KONA — Hezekiah Anahu-Ambrosio has a dream of one day playing in the NFL, eventually making it to the Pro Bowl as one of the best players at his position.
While that dream is on hold for at least a few more years for the hard working Kealakehe seventh grader, he achieved what may be the next best thing for a 13-year-old.
Anahu-Ambrosio was selected to play in the Diamond Youth All-American football game in Murrieta, California from Jan. 12-17. The game will feature some of the best fifth-through-eighth grade football players in the nation.
“When I found out I made the roster I was excited,” Anahu-Ambrosio said. “I’d never thought something like this would have ever happened to me. I was speechless for a second but then I told myself I got this.”
Anahu-Ambrosio — also known as “Kiah” — has made a name for himself with the Leeward Steelers Pop Warner squad. As a standout running back and linebacker, he helped lead the Peewee team to an undefeated 13-0 season, which wrapped up with a bowl game victory on Oahu.
“I enjoy playing football because of the feeling of competition. The feeling of pumping up my teammates before a game,” he said. “And also just the feeling of being out there on the field with all my friends and knowing that my family is out there watching and giving me there support. I wouldn’t give football up for anything.”
There is no true offseason for Anahu-Ambrosio, who is involved in swimming with the Kona Dolphins club, jiu-jitsu, boxing and track and field. During his spare time, Anahu-Ambrosio can usually be found hunting, diving or fishing. However, even when football is on a break, the young gridiron standout still finds a way to get his workouts in with B.A.D. Academy and coach Aisea Tremaine.
“Hezekiah is hands down one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Tremaine said. “He’s one of those athletes that continues to impress you every time he trains. We had to double the training and the intensity because of the target being on his back this season and he embraced every part of it, never shying away from anything we did. He definitely understands the importance of hard work and he attacks every time we train. His work ethic, dedication, and commitment is the reason why he’s playing in this All-American game in California.”
His hard work on and off the field got him noticed by Sergio Mamone — who helps coach a rival Big Island Pop Warner squad in the Panewa Alii. He nominated the Steelers’ standout for the game to join his son, Ricky Mamone. The duo, who have a long history of competing against each other locally, will represent the Big Island at the game.
“It’s a good thing for the Big Island to show what kind of talent we have here,” said Kiah’s dad, Hezekiah “Heze” Anahu-Ambrosio, a 2002 Konawaena grad and football standout who now coaches the Leeward Steelers program.
As for what got him to this point, Anahu-Ambrosio credited his dad and Tremaine for putting him in position to succeed.
“Without all those days of training, video watching and healthy eating habits I wouldn’t be the way I am today,” he said. “I would also like to thank and credit them for getting me all the support from friends, family, my teammates and other community members out there through social media and just from everyone spreading the word.”
Anahu-Ambrosio is asking for a bit of help from the community to help make his dream a reality. The cost of the trip is estimated to be around $3,500. Donations are being taken online at gofundme.com/hezekiah-anahuambrosio.
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