Why wait to be great?
Bellarmine Prep’s Sefo Liufau chooses not to.
Liufau’s career for the Lions in football and basketball will likely be long remembered by followers of city high school athletics.
He was the star quarterback for three seasons, leading the school to its first Gridiron Classic appearance in December. And he was a four-year starter at forward in basketball, helping the Lions reach the Class 4A state semifinals in 2011-12.
A true unquestioned leader on and off either playing surface, Liufau is The News Tribune’s 2012-13 senior high school male athlete of the year.
“Sefo’s accomplishments on the field, court and in the classroom are obviously outstanding,” Bellarmine Prep athletic director Ed Ploof said. “It is in the area of leadership, however, where he truly made his mark at Bellarmine. He has the unique ability to make everyone around him compete to the best of their abilities, and exceed even their own expectations.”
As soon as one path ended for Liufau, another one began — literally in a matter of hours.
After Bellarmine Prep’s senior class graduated June 2 — early on a Sunday afternoon — Liufau boarded a flight to Denver with his dad to start school at the University of Colorado.
The next day, after father Joe Liufau helped his teenage son move into his college dormitory room at Willard Hall in Boulder, Colo., Sefo Liufau enrolled in his first college course — Business Core 1010-3, or introduction to
After that, he headed directly to the football field for a team-led practice.
In his second day, he threw his first touchdown pass in seven-on-seven drills — on a go-route.
And by Thursday, he was still wandering around campus, figuring out where everything was located.
“I don’t know every building by name yet,” Liufau said. “It does not help all the buildings look the same.”
His roommate at Willard Hall is incoming tight end Derek McCartney, a grandson of former Buffaloes coach Bill McCartney.
Liufau’s dormitory is 100 yards from the food court, which serves six different ethnic cuisines daily, including Persian, Mexican and Italian.
“Pretty much anything you’d want,” Liufau said. “And there is a dessert bar.”
This is the life Liufau decided on right after he signed with Colorado in February, giving up spending time close to family and friends in Tacoma and a summer of leisure.
“It is hard, seeing how fast everything goes,” Liufau said. “But I don’t regret my decision. For me, this is enjoyable, coming to Colorado to start working.”
Not only is he fitting it — older teammates refer to Liufau as “Rook” — but he is showing the team unwavering commitment.
In the volunteer workouts, newcomers were excused early to get a head start on the walk across campus to get lunch. Instead, Liufau stayed behind to throw more passes to his receivers.
By the time he got back on campus, the food court was closed.
So he went to his dormitory room and munched on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Within the first week, there’s been so much stuff I’ve had to do,” Liufau said. “You have to be on top of everything, because it only gets worse in the fall.”
He has one primary goal: Earn the starting quarterback job at Colorado as soon as possible.
“You have to have a lot of confidence — in teammates and your own ability, especially coming in here as a freshman,” Liufau said. “I definitely have a desire to be great, and be the best at what I do.”
THE SEFO LIUFAU FILE
Cumulative GPA: 3.57.
Career varsity letters: 7 (4 in basketball, 3 in football).
College choice: Colorado.
Best memory: “One good memory was when we came back against Bothell in the football playoffs (4A quarterfinals) my sophomore year. Another one was beating Gonzaga Prep (in the 4A quarterfinals) this year in a nail-biting game. That was fun, especially the bus ride back.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442