• Kamaile Aluli @ csusmcougars.com

Finding My Ohana at CSUSM by Kamaile Aluli

Injuries can change players. I knew that I might not be the same player I was before I broke my leg. Even worse, I knew that my soon-to-be college coach was taking a big risk on me, especially since the injury happened just before I had signed my letter of intent. It was my second-to-last game of my senior season, January 7, 2017. A day I'll never forget. It was a stressful time, not knowing how serious it might be and how long it would be until I would be back on the field. I remember how terrified I was of how Coach Bobby might react, because often times injured players are seen as "damaged goods." Coach Bobby's encouragement and understanding was a huge part of why I knew CSUSM was the perfect place for me. After talking it over with coach, we came to the conclusion that my priority was my recovery. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very difficult process. I ended up going through numerous injuries and five stress fractures. There were so many ups and downs over the course of my recovery that it was truly hard to stay positive. After 26 long months, I finally stepped onto the field in Spring 2019, and I felt like a giddy little kid. I couldn't stop smiling, and in that moment, soccer was the only thing that mattered. Looking back at my road to recovery, I was lucky to have a second family at CSUSM. Not only to cheer me on while I recovered, but to truly be my 'home away from home.' Family is the most important thing in my life, and in Hawai'i, we have a saying, "'Ike aku, 'ike mai. Kōkua aku, kōkua mai. Pēlā ka nohona 'ohana", which roughly translates to "Watch, observe. Help others and accept help. That is the family way." I try to live by this in respect to everyone: friends, teammates, teachers and strangers. Being aware of ways you can help others is a big part of the culture back home. We think of everyone as family, and everyone should be treated the way you would treat your family. Leaving my family in Hawai'i wasn't easy, but my parents always encouraged me to experience life away from the islands. They knew that there was more to experience outside of our little bubble, and the family I gained in San Marcos made me feel right at home. Even the little things, like being able to go to my neighbors for favors or my teammates' parents treating me like their own, I felt like I had been welcomed into the entire San Marcos community with open arms. My CSUSM family has even been there for me during my toughest times. After losing my father and grandmother during my freshman year, I felt the love and support from my coaches, teammates and friends more than ever. It was hard for me because I wasn't there when it happened. My coaches encouraged me to go home right away, along with David Nathanson, our Assistant Director of Athletics for Academics, Compliance, Eligibility and Support Services, who helped me readjust to school after I came back. My teammates and their families were even kind enough to send a beautiful bouquet of flowers to Hawai'i for my father and checked in with me often. My dad's passing changed my life; it made me appreciate it more and taught me to be more grateful and value the people around me. His passing made being away even more difficult, but I knew that he would want me to stay in San Marcos and continue my education and collegiate soccer career. In the words of J. Cole, "there is no such thing as a life that's better than yours." This has always resonated with me because of the message to be grateful and fortunate for the life we have and the positives that can come out of the struggles and adversity. I am so grateful for the family that I have gained at CSUSM. From when I first arrived on campus, through the rehabilitation, the loss and now starting my first season and playing in the first games of my college career, they have been by my side. Despite all the hardships I've faced, there is truly no other life that I'd rather be living. Mahalo, Kamaile

Finding My Ohana at CSUSM by Kamaile Aluli


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