The coming of a star

For Kauaian Scott Lee, becoming a star college lineman in California has been a matter of maturity, hard work and capitalizing on his size and strength.

Lee, who stands 6-4 and weighs 310 pounds now, had an injury-prone tenure with the Kaua’i High Red Raiders, where he was a lineman his junior and senior years of 1998 and 1999.

A lineman for Butte College in Chico, Calif., Lee was recently chosen first team All-California Region I by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

Lee was also named first-team NorCal Football Conference, helping his school to attain a No. 2 final ranking from J-C Grid Wire. Lee also has drawn high praise from college football organizations.

“This is a story about a local boy who made good, a story of perseverance. I am really quite proud,” said Lee’s father, Sam, a retired official with the state Department of Land and Natural office on Kaua’i. Scott’s mother is Sheila Lee, also of Koloa.

Lee will graduate from Butte College with a two-year degree in May this year, and has been offered football scholarships at three colleges. He also is considering other college football options – he will be eligible to play for a Division 1 college team for two more years.

His interest in football began four years ago.

In 1998, Lee transferred from Kahili Adventist to Kaua’i High. He was a “good-size kid with quick feet,” gained from years of playing in youth soccer leagues, Sam said.

His son, however, wanted to play football despite having no prior experience with the sport, Sam said.

Lee took the leap, but got injured a lot playing football and ended his high school football career as a lineman on no special note before graduating from high school in 1999, Sam said.

Very few people who saw Lee in action in high school felt he could play college football, Lee’s father said. Scott thought otherwise – he “never stopped believing in himself,” Sam said.

In the summer of 1999, after graduating from high school, Scott, then 17-years- old, obtained a waiver to play for the Kaua’i Cowboys, a semi-professional team. Scott won a starting offensive tackle position and competed successfully against older, bigger and more experienced players, his father said.

The experience added to Scott’s confidence about the game and fueled his ambition to play college ball, Sam said.

By the end of summer 1999, Scott enrolled at Yuba Junior College by Sacramento, Ca., and joined the football team, his father said.

He won an offensive guard position on the team that ended the 2000 season with a 9-2 record. It was the best win-loss record the school had achieved in years and his son helped that team reach that goal through his play on the line.

The Yuba 49ers, Sam said, ended the season ranked among the top 10 junior college football teams in California.

That state boasts 71 junior college football teams and football programs that are considered the tops in the nation, Sam said.

After his freshmen year at the college, Scott Lee transferred to Butte College by Chico, Ca., to join a football program that had a winning tradition.

Because the transfer of credits became an issue before the 2001 football season, Scott decided to redshirt to square away his academic requirements.

He eventually won a spot on the offensive line as a right guard for the Butte College Roadrunners.

At the end the season, the Roadrunners built a record of 10-1, had won the NorCal Conference with a 5-0 record and ended the 2002 season as the number two junior college football program in the nation, an accomplishment no other football team from Butte College has reached, Lee said.

In a news report, Butte coach Craig Rigsbee noted that Lee was one of the main blockers in an offense that averaged 43 points per game. During the season, Lee was credited with more than 20 “pancake” blocks.

A proud moment came for his son during the past season, Sam Lee said, when Butte College team whipped the City College of San Francisco 35-10. The San Francisco junior college previously won three consecutive junior college football championships, the elder Lee said.

During regular season play, Lee was selected the offensive player of the game in a victory over Chabot College in California, Sam Lee said. It is an honor seldom given to a lineman.

Lee’s prowess on the field drew the attention of college football analysts in 2001, when he played Yuba College.

The producers of JCfootball.com, an online guide to junior college football, noted Scott Lee was among five “additional” players to watch, apparently in college football conferences in California.

In September 2001, JCfootball .com also named Lee, because of his achievements at Yuba College, to its pre-season all-state team. Lee was nominated by his coach.

Butte coach Craig Rigsbee this month was quoted as saying in a Honolulu daily that “we’d loved to get another offensive linemen like Scott from Hawai’i.”

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