The little things don't bother Joey Alofaituli. Come to think of it, the big things don't seem to bother him either. Penn's starting weakside cornerback and one of four team captains, Alofaituli can often be spotted in a Hawaiian shirt, sporting a large grin. For Alofaituli, it's the same in life as it is in football -- it has to be fun. In a meeting of team captains before training camp, Alofaituli stressed his philosophy. "We had dinner, and he just said, OThis has to be fun,'" junior running back and fellow captain Kris Ryan said. "I agree with him. If it's not fun, it's not even worth doing. "It's not to say that you don't need hard work, but at the same time, if you're not having fun just playing football in general, it's not even worth it." Things haven't always come so easy to Alofaituli, though. After moving to Los Angeles from Hawaii when he was 3 years old, his parents divorced. His father moved upstate to San Francisco, where Alofaituli visited odd weekends and holidays. Spending much of his time in L.A., Alofaituli forged a very close relationship with his mother, Denise Dellomes. It was for that relationship that Alofaituli was to give up football, and for that relationship that he would eventually return to the game. His childhood was characterized by constant moving around until the family settled in Torrance, Calif. "We've been in Southern California, but we've moved like six times," Alofaituli said. "I had been to so many different schools up until high school." Once in high school at North Torrance, Alofaituli wasted little time making his mark, athletically and academically. He was a tri-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball, captaining the first two teams. He won All-League awards in football and baseball and was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior. When it came time to choose a college, Alofaituli looked east, short-listing Penn and Columbia. An L.A. kid through and through, Alofaituli knew New York wasn't the place, so he came to Penn. But freshman year, things weren't much fun. After an unhappy first year at school and with his mother going through her second divorce, Alofaituli quit the football team and went home, doubtful that Penn was the place for him. Determined to give it another chance, Alofaituli set out to use his sophomore year as a litmus test. All it took was one football game in the stands to realize that he sorely missed the game he loved. He returned to the Quakers that year in spring ball, with a newfound determination to prove he belonged. That determination carried over into his other newfound commitment, the dance group Strictly Funk. "I know Joey worked his ass off to make his schedule work so that he could do both," Strictly Funk founder Jennifer Weber said. "He would be running, running back and forth from practices. Sometimes he'd have to go to make-up football practices because he would miss football for dance or vice versa." After that, Alofaituli rose to become one of the leaders of the Penn defense while being named an All-Ivy honorable mention last year. Now in his fifth year at Penn, Alofaituli is one of the most game-tested Quakers at any position. Penn coach Al Bagnoli said that his combination of experience, excitement and work ethic makes him an asset at captain. "He likes everything about [the game], and that kind of rubs off on some other people," Bagnoli said. Said sophomore defensive back Fred Plaza: "I think he's probably the most exciting kid on the team. He's always up for anything. He gets everyone pumped up before games." And he's back to having fun.Comments powered by Disqus
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