The Vili Fehoko Football Family
We all know Vili the Warrior. We’ve all cheered with him at University of Hawaii football games. We’ve also all enjoyed watching the young people who perform with him on the sidelines.
But did you know that most of those young performers were his own kids? And did you know that four of those kids are outstanding football players? It’s true.
Vili and his wife Linda, who now live in Kalihi after moving from Laie a few years ago, have four sons: Whitley, 19; Sam, 18; VJ (or Vili Jr.), 14, and Breiden, 10.
“All of them performed with Vili on the sidelines,” Linda says proudly.
“It’s all about hard work, beating those drums in the stadium,” Vili says. “They really put their hearts into it.”
The four Fehoko boys also put their hearts into football. Oldest son Whitley (Farrington class of 2006), who is 6-feet-1-inch tall and 330 pounds, was a freshman offensive lineman at San Diego State this past season. According to Linda, he was one of only five true freshmen who started on the offensive line in NCAA Division IA football this past year.
Second son Sam (Farrington class of 2007), is 6-foot-1-inch and 230 pounds and has accepted a scholarship to play defensive end at Texas Tech next year. He’s also an outstanding student who will graduate near the top of his senior class this week.
Third son VJ (Farrington class of 2010) started this past year at linebacker for the Farrington varsity as only a freshman. He’s 5-feet-9-inches tall and 190 pounds already, so he’s still got some growing to do.
Then there’s Breiden, who is a fifth grader at Pearl Harbor Elementary School. He plays basketball, football and baseball, and according to his mom, won the local Pass, Punt and Kick contest for his age group two years in a row. “He sleeps with his football every night,” Linda says with a smile.
“We do everything as a family,” Vili says. “I sat down with them and I asked each of them ‘What’s your goal in life?‘The boys all said they wanted to play college football and go to the NFL. If that’s the case, I told them ‘We’ll train hard.‘I make them get up at 5 a.m. every day and we (work out). We lift (weights) every day and we run up the hill to Tripler Hospital every Saturday morning.”
Vili keeps himself strong, too. He’s an ‘83 Kahuku grad who played linebacker for the Red Raider team that lost to Waianae in the OIA title game his senior year. “I was about 5-foot-10, 190 pounds then. Now, I’m 6 feet and 320.”
Since June Jones took over as head coach, Vili has been putting his heart and soul into cheering on the Warriors. So far, though, his first two sons have decided to play football elsewhere.
“I love UH, you know that,” he says. “My dream was to see my kids play at home. They loved UH, too, but recruiting gets kind of crazy. In our family, we talked about it and we prayed about it, and I told them I would support their choice.”
With his two oldest sons heading off to San Diego State and Texas Tech, Vili says there’s still a good chance that one of his next two sons will stay home.
“I’d love for one of my sons to play for UH. Vili Jr. and Breiden are coming up,” he says. “VJ might be the best athlete of them all. He works very hard. We’ll see what happens. I’d love to see him stay at home.”
There’s a long time to wait for that happen. In the meantime, the Fehokos are just enjoying being a football family.
“I have a friend in the NFL, (Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman) Randall McDaniel,“Vili says. “When he played in the Pro Bowl, he would come over to our house, and the boys really looked up to him.”
Who knows? Maybe one day the Fehoko boys will get their own shot at the Pro Bowl.
Then, Vili the Warrior will have one big extra incentive to cheer on Hawaii’s favorite sons.