The past two weeks for Lincoln Victor included consecutive round trips to Hawaii, separated by a 24-hour window in which, through jet-lag, he took all four of his finals. He was, admittedly, exhausted.
But what came at the end of the hectic turn of events — accepting a Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship from University of Hawaii — for Victor, was well worth it.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Victor said Wednesday morning.
Born in Maui, he was adorned proudly in Hawaiian leis and a kelly green hat with rainbow-themed “808” (Hawaii’s area code).
Victor, the Associated Press’ 4A Washington state player of the year, revealed his commitment to Hawaii during Union High School’s annual National Signing Day ceremony, which featured 14 athletes this year — six football players.
And his reveal, the only one across the region (every other athlete had committed prior to the ceremony), served as the main event as dozens of athletes across all sports signed letters of intent to play college athletics on Wednesday’s signing day.
In a cafeteria packed with students, faculty, family, and reporters, Victor’s announcement was met with a roaring applause as he put the UH hat on and revealed a sign with his choice.
Victor will play slot receiver for the Rainbow Warriors, despite primarily playing quarterback at Union.
Hawaii offered the three-star (per 247 Sports) athlete last May, joining a host of FCS schools, but Victor did not visit until Jan. 23, two days after returning from a week spent in Oahu for Polynesian Bowl festivities.
“Really happy for him, really stoked,” Union coach Rory Rosenbach said. “I think those guys are great guys over there and he’ll be really successful.”
For Victor, choosing Hawaii made the most sense in the end. Though he moved to Vancouver at age four, his Hawaiian heritage has always been a big part of his life, and a source of pride.
That made his commitment a hard secret to keep leading up to Wednesday. He told his immediate family, a couple friends, but otherwise kept the secret mums.
“My phone was blowing up this last week, my family was calling, I was like ‘I gotta keep it a secret still,’ ” Victor said. “Now everyone knows and the stress and the relief is off my shoulders.”
Victor also called each coach who previously recruited him from other schools as, he said, a sign of respect.
“They had a belief in me that some people didn’t across the nation,” Victor said. He sported offers from FCS programs Eastern Washington, Northern Iowa, Portland State and Sacramento State.
There were times after the school offered Victor where the prospects of upholding the scholarship faltered, according to Union coach Rory Rosenbach. There were even talks about pulling the offer. But Victor stayed in touch with the coaches, and it paid off.
Rainbow Warriors coach Nick Rolovich told Rosenbach he pulled a scholarship from the defensive side to offer Victor.
“Doesn’t happen all the time like that,” Rosenbach said. “Super happy for him, he was patient.”
Victor was sold after his visit to Hawaii. What further sold him on the school was the Rainbow Warriors’ aggressive scheduling. They start next season playing Arizona, Oregon State and Washington.
Union running back/receiver Joio Siofele signed with Portland State, outside linebacker and wideout Alishawuan Taylor signed with Northern Arizona (after committing hours before the ceremony) and long snapper James Durr signed with Eastern Washington as a preferred walk-on.
Darien Chase (Nebraska) and Dumitru Salagor (Montana) also participated in the ceremony, but signed at the beginning of the early signing period in November.
Siofele started at Union as a freshman, and drew the attention of Portland State even back then. But after devastating knee injury, in which he tore his ACL, MCL and fractured a bone, colleges who were previously interested lost touch.
“That’s just the business of it,” Siofele said.
So throughout his junior and senior seasons, Siofele went without an offer. Portland State started to regain interest throughout his senior season. And the Vikings were there in person to see him post 179 yards receiving, 113 yards rushing and four total touchdowns in a 4A state title game blowout of Lake Stevens.
The next day, the phone rang. The offer came soon after.
“Big stage, big moment and I knew if the ball was in my hands, I’d put trust in my teammates to help me get in the end zone,” Siofele said. “I had a lot of success that night.”
Rosenbach, who is coming off his first WIAA state title (he won two in Oregon with Eugene’s Marist High School), noted that the six college football signees were the most he’s had in over a decade as a head coach.
“You have that many people up here, ya better win a state title,” Rosenbach quipped, jokingly. “If (I) don’t, then I should be looking for a job.”
LOCAL SIGNEES for February signing period (4-year schools only)
* — football preferred walk-on
^ — signed in December’s early football signing period
Tanner McDonald, baseball, Pacific Lutheran
Grace Stillman, softball, Western Oregon
Ally Turkington, women’s soccer, Evergreen State College
Dawson Ingram, football, Eastern Washington^
Shane Jamison, football, San Diego
Luc Sturbelle, football, Air Force
Tanner Craig, wrestling, Army
Mary Pipkin, softball/volleyball, Cardinal Stritch
Liam Kalhagen, men’s soccer, Southern Oregon
Callie Rheaume, soccer, Hawaii Pacific
Carla Jooste, soccer, Mercy College
Merritt Fielding, women’s soccer, Westminster College
Liz Canton, women’s soccer, Central Washington
Kanen Eaton, football, Utah State*
Matt Asplund, football, Rocky Mountain College
Tyrehl Vaivao, football, Mt. Sac College
Thomas Karcher, football, Linfield
Dawson Lieurance, football, Linfield
Benjamin Basquera, lacrosse, Salisbury
Aidan Mallory, football, SW Minnesota State
Jenna Remenar, softball, Jamestown
Sam Morris, men’s soccer, St. Mary’s (Minn.)
Makai Anderson, football, Central Washington
Kobe Anderson, football, Central Washington*
Thai Hindman, football, Central Washington*
Kate Kadrmas, track and field, Nebraska
Evan Zuvich, men’s golf, Northwest Christian
Saydee Christenson, softball, Cottey College
Lainne Wilkins, volleyball, Rocky Mountain College
Molly Packer, volleyball, Montana State-Billings
Brock Harrison, football, Eastern Washington^
Makani Schultz, football, Eastern Oregon
Emma Jenkins, softball, Carroll College
Sarah Jenkins, softball, Carroll College
Isaiah Parker (plays baseball at Mountain View), baseball, Sacramento State
Sean Ball, men’s golf, Saint Martin’s
Riley O’Rourke, football, Central Washington
Tyler DeJong, football, Central Washington
Presley Timmons, cross country/track, Idaho State
Gracie Brenner, volleyball, Saint Martin’s
Joyce Emmy, volleyball, Providence Christian
Grace Dojan, rowing, Gonzaga
Noah Guyette, baseball, Air Force
Gracie Brenner, volleyball, Saint Martin’s
Lincoln Victor, football, Hawaii
Jojo Siofele, football, Portland State
Alishawuan Taylor, football, Northern Arizona
James Durr, football, Eastern Washington*
Darien Chase, football, Nebraska^
Dumitru Salagor, football, Montana^
Erin Miller, softball, Evangel University
Kate Bricker, rowing, University of San Diego
Jordan Griffin, rowing, Sacramento State
Mackenzie Ridgway, acro-tumbling, Arizona Christian
Tyler Flanagan, football, Central Washington