From the Islands to Philly
Shaun Kauleinamoku’s long journey to AFL stardom.
Shaun Kauleinamoku, a standout wide receiver for the Philadelphia Soul who, recently reached 400 career receptions and 5,000 career receiving yards, commutes nearly five thousand miles to work, and that’s just one way. Kauleinamoku is from, and still lives in Oahu, Hawaii. At the start of every Arena Football League he migrates east to do what he loves, play football.
Kauleinamoku was very active growing up; his parents got him involved in sports at a young age. His father played a big role in shaping him as an athlete.
“My father was the one that trained me as a boy,” said Kauleinamoku. “I lived right next to a community park so my father would take me out there every day after my homework to work on fundamentals.”
By the time he got to high school Kauleinamoku knew that football was the sport he loved most. Football is huge in Hawaii, the tiny island has sent many of its high school players to the National Football League.
“There’s a lot of talent on the island,” said Kauleinamoku. “We don’t have a professional team so we take pride in the teams we have here. The atmosphere at a football game here in Hawaii is exciting.”
In 2006 Kauleinamoku left Hawaii and headed to the “mainland” to play football for the Western Oregon Wolves. The moved brought the opportunity of a future in football but it also brought culture shock. Kauleinamoku was hundreds of miles away from him family and the vibrant culture that he grew up with, and the distance would only increase.
The move to Philadelphia was less of an adjustment for Kauleinamoku, who felt blessed just to be able to travel across the United States, was glad to be a part of a championship-caliber team. He also left with the full support of his family.
“Working and living far from home has its pros and cons,” said Kauleinamoku. “But my family is very supportive and encouraging of me doing what I love so its makes being away from home a little easier.”
Every off-season Kauleinamoku returns home to train and hang out with his family and friends. He spends his time hiking and exploring the island of Oahu. He unwinds at the end of every day with a trip to the beach with his fiancé.
While Kauleinamoku may not be able to walk to the beach from his house in Philadelphia, he has made his own home in the Philadelphia offense. In the two seasons that he has been a part of the Soul he has had a huge impact, with 125 receptions for 1,746 yards and 37 touchdowns.
“SK has been a great addition to our receiving core,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. “He is a huge team player and a great leader on and off the field.”
Kauleinamoku’s strong start to the season has been key for the Soul, who are looking to win a championship this year. Last week in the game against the Cleveland Gladiators Kauleinamoku reached two milestones in his career, catching his 400 reception and reaching 5,000 receiving yards. Kauleinamoku accomplished this in just under five seasons in the league and is just three touchdowns away from 100.
“The explosive energy and work ethic that SK brings both in practice and in games has become something our team depends on,” said Soul Head Coach Clint Dolezel. “What he has been able to accomplish is a testament to what kind of player he is and a key to our team’s success so far.”
The Soul will travel to Jacksonville to face the Sharks on June 4, at 7 p.m. Kauleinamoku will try to reach another milestone and help lead his team to their eighth win of the season.
“My main goal is winning the championship with my brothers,” said Kauleinamoku. “Along the way, I’d like to catch everything that comes my way, make plays when my number is called and be as much as an asset to the team as I can.”