Five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore says the most important part of his position isn’t speed, elusiveness, or power.
Gore believes it’s vision — the ability to see and anticipate running lanes before they open.
That’s what makes Kalaheo ball carrier Kaliu Lapera’s success so staggering.
The Mustangs running back, linebacker, and catcher on the baseball team was blinded in one eye when he was accidentally hit in the head by a baseball bat while playing with friends when he was 10 years old.
Let’s take a trip on campus with Mustang nation and see why Lapera’s ability to see the field has made him one of the top players in the OIA White Division.
After losing half of his vision, Lapera could have left the brotherhood of sports, but with persistence, his doctors allowed him to step back on the baseball field six months after the accident.
“I was always eager to play. I always wanted to see if I could play still. So I went out for baseball again. I threw a couple times and I was getting the feel, maybe a year later, it all came back,” he said. “I felt like before, like (the accident) never did happen.”
As he started to to work his way back into sports, Lapera found his skills, hand-eye coordination, vision, hadn’t been cut in half. A consummate competitor, he found new ways to make himself stand out.
“That extra heightening of senses that he has, it’s just a feeling,” said Kalaheo head coach Darrell Poole. “You can see it when he’s playing on the field. It’s like a sixth sense, eighth sense, or something, you could call it.”
Not many can get him, but he’ll get to them. He’s not just a running back. Lapera is also known as one of the most intimidating enforcers in the division at linebacker.
He enjoys being accepted as normal, but his motivation is to be an example to others like him.
“When I get older, I was hoping to write a book one day about what happened with me, and then hoping that kids can read that and hopefully get their self-esteem up to do what they want to do,” Lapera said.
His desire to tell his story makes him anything but ordinary.