Life Matters: Family, friendship help Toilolo field major life changes

In 2016, Dylan Toilolo was a huge part of bringing Saint Louis its first state title since 2010. He earned first-team all-state honors from his duties as a thumping linebacker.

Many were stunned when news broke before this season that the senior wouldn’t be a Crusader or a linebacker in 2017.

Toilolo left his brotherhood at Saint Louis and transferred to public school in order to help his mom, Julia, pay the bills.

Toilolo said it was a shock, but “I didn’t mind, because I hated seeing her struggle to pay my tuition.”

Toilolo has filled in seamlessly at Kapolei High School, playing safety for a Hurricane defense that has only allowed 10 points per game.

The boys on the team love having Toilolo back home on the west side.

“It’s kind of funny, because they always show up to my house. They just text my phone like, ‘Oh, we’re outside, can we come inside?’ and we all get to hang out. I love it,” Toilolo said.

Friendship is something Toilolo has leaned on to help turn him into the outstanding young man he’s become.

His father, Fouina, was away from the family while serving a six-year prison sentence while Toilolo was a child.

“He went in when I was three and came out when I was nine. It was rough, to be honest,” Toilolo said.

But Toilolo also attributes his success on the field to his father.

“He was the one that put me into football. He said he’d seen talent in me,” he said.

Physical on the field but soft-spoken off of it, Toilolo was told by his father to stand up for himself while being picked on as a kid in Pop Warner.

“The one thing I loved that he taught me was to be fearless. That’s why I love my dad so much. That’s always going to be my number-one coach,” he said.

That mindset and fearlessness has Toilolo wanting to learn more about the human psyche.

Inspired by his ability to stay mentally strong, his dream is to earn a scholarship to a university, preferably here in Hawaii so he can play in front of his family and friends.

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