A few weeks ago, Butch Pau'u and his teammates helped Servite head coach Tim Kelly win his first CIF playoff game. It was a great moment for the Servite head coach.
"We just got done with basketball," Pau’u said. "We lost in the second round of the CIF Championships. We weren't doing that well, but we still made it into the playoffs. After our last game we thought we were done with our season. Then our coach said that we have practice on Monday, so we all knew we were heading into the playoffs.
“We gave our basketball coach Tim Kelly his first playoff victory at Servite. That was really cool."
Now that basketball is over, Pau'u has a little secret that he's sort of kept quiet. He likes to play tennis, and, in fact, is on Servite's tennis team. In Tonga, every LDS chapel has one thing: a tennis court. It's not uncommon to see big 6-foot-4-inch, 290-pound rugby players take off the cleats to smack a small, yellow ball around for a few hours.
"Everything is going well and I’m just going to church, going to Scouts and playing tennis," said Pau'u with a laugh. "I tried to skip that part! Yeah, my dad wanted me to go into tennis to help with my footwork."
So how does the 6-foot, 220-pound middle linebacker do on the tennis court? Well, it's no secret that he would rather be smashing a quarterback, but apparently he isn't that bad at hitting a ball over a net either.
"I'm pretty good," he said. "I don't want to say this because it's embarrassing, but last year I thought I was doing really well. I had gotten better since my freshman year and was doing really well in tennis. I thought I was playing my best game ever.
"Then one day my younger sister shows up to practice," he continued. "My coach then tells me to challenge her, so I challenge her and my coach is watching and my mom is watching. Well, she beat me 6-0 and that was the worst day of my life!"
Sounds like his sister could be a future candidate for a tennis scholarship.
"I hope so!" he said. "She's the most athletic out of anyone in our family between me and my brother. Oh man, I need to watch that! BYU might drop me and start recruiting her!"
When he's not taking lessons from his younger sister, life is pretty much normal for one of California's top middle linebackers.
"Everything is going pretty good," he mentioned. "I mean, football-wise, everything is going good. I have an offer from my church school BYU, but there is some controversy surrounding me though."
The controversy he referred to involves some reports and rumors about a scholarship offer from Washington that was supposedly extended to him.
"On Scout.com they're saying that Washington offered," said Pau'u. "I really like to have everything go through my coaches and have them confirm to me that Washington had offered, but they said they haven't heard anything. They said that they were one of the first schools to look at me, but they haven't heard anything other than that from an interest level. Coach Thomas said he would be the first one to find out about that, and I trust him with everything."
Although he has received the one offer he really wanted, Pau'u said it would be a great compliment and honor to receive offers from other schools.
"Yeah, I wouldn't mind some Pac-10 offers, but I'm just going to go with the flow," he commented. "I'm not really going to worry about it until after the school year. I have an offer from BYU. My parents want me to commit before my senior year just to get it out or the way, so we're going to commit as a family."
As for his BYU offer, Pau'u is still very excited about it and talks about his offer and if it happened yesterday.
"Oh man, I'm so stoked," Pau'u said. "I mean, my family and I have been big BYU fans all our lives. My mom says she feels really good about it. She's been praying about it and she says she feels really good about BYU."
That kind of news bodes really well for BYU. When a Tongan mother – or a Samoan mother for that matter – feels good about something, convincing them otherwise is like trying to convince them that the McDonald's dollar menu tastes better than food at a good old-fashioned Polynesian luau. It just isn't going to happen.
Nevertheless, Pau’u is already interested in BYU anyway.
"For me, it's because they allow me to go and serve my mission," Pau'u said. "It's been a big part of my parents raising me and why they really like BYU. In raising me, it's been the number one thing when I grow up and turn 19 to go and serve my mission, then come back and finish up college. That's what I plan to do, and it's not to come back and play tennis either."