Duo thankful for return trip home

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoThere’s really no place like home. For Wisconsin’s Donovan Raiola and James Kamoku Saturday’s football game has a special sentimental value. It marks the first time since high school that the two Hawaiian natives will play in the Aloha State.Raiola, the 6-foot-3, 294-pound starting center, attended Kamehameha High School in Honolulu. Back in those high school days, he was a regional All-American and a first-team all-state selection. Fast forward to 2005, where he is one of four Wisconsin team captains, was named to the 2004 and 2005 preseason watch lists for the Dave Rimington Trophy (college football’s top center) and was rated this preseason as the No. 5 center in the nation.Needless to say, Raiola is looking forward to making the trip home. He feels a sense of pride being from Hawaii and playing in front of family and friends.”Pride is important and Hawaiians like to carry it on their chest,” Raiola said.The return home is a balance of business and leisure for the center, returning home while looking to help Wisconsin to equal its win total from last season (nine). The Badgers are also trying to revive a running game that has struggled in the last two weeks (-11 and 19 yards, respectively).”It will be important for us to show up and play our best football,” Raiola said.The senior is also looking forward to returning to his home surroundings. He said it will be an emotional high as he runs out on the Aloha Stadium field and sees his family and friends in the stands.”I’m just grateful for having such great support,” the center said.Kamoku is a 6-foot-2, 211-pound defensive back from Kailua-Kona. At Kealakehe High School, he was a second-team all-state and a first-team all-conference selection as a linebacker and a two-time team MVP. At Wisconsin he earned his first varsity letter in 2004 and played 11 games as a reserve defensive back.However, even as a member of the visitors, he has a deep respect for the Warriors.”University of Hawaii football is a dream for many players growing up on the islands,” Kamoku said.The dream to play at a Division I school inspired Kamoku to further himself and work towards his full potential. It was this desire that landed him the opportunity to play at the UW. Regardless, though, the sophomore is eager to play in front of some familiar faces.”I will be emotional and so will they,” Kamoku said. “After all, it will be the first time that I have played before them since high school. And I do miss them; friends and family are something that you can’t take away.”Both Raiola and Kamoku have high hopes for the team’s performance this weekend. They hold a great respect for the Warriors and know how tough they are to play in Aloha Stadium.”It’s going to be a tough one,” Kamoku said. “They are going to come out swinging.”Raiola emphasized the importance for the Badgers to start the game with intensity and carry it throughout. Kamoku added the value of team play in a matchup that will test both sides of the ball.”As a team: offensively, defensively and specially we plan to go into the game as one,” Kamoku said. “If we lean on each other we will have a great chance of winning.”The Hawaiian natives hope to gain something special from the travel back to the home state. Taking care of the business on the field is their first objective, followed by spending quality time with the team, family, and friends. But the Badgers will also take advantage of what the Aloha State has to offer. Raiola and Kamoku have made sure that the team has the opportunity to experience things such as the 20- to 30-foot waves on the North Shore, snorkeling in the Pacific and deep sea fishing.”Hey, it will be a sight to see a bunch of fat lineman running around on the beach,” Raiola joked.last_img