When Keala Watson was growing up, all he wanted to do was play football. As he made his way up the ranks, it seemed that nothing would be in his way, until this past season at the University of Hawai’i.
“I earned a football scholarship to UH after graduating from Nanakuli High School. I was granted a medical redshirt last season after I was diagnosed with a blood condition called Von Willebrands disease, which is similar to hemophilia,” Watson said.
He was born at Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Lihu’e and went through school at King Kaumuali’i and Kaua’i High School.
After his short stint as a Red Raider, Watson moved to Nanakuli, but Kaua’i still remains first in his heart.
“Yes, I am a true Kaua’i boy, born and raised,” Watson exclaimed.
Football took a back seat for Watson, after he found out how serious his condition was, but after being cleared to play this past season by top blood specialists in California, Watson knew that nothing else would stop him from following his dream.
As a 6-foot-3, 325 pounds, defensive lineman, Watson had to use a little caution to play.
For instance, to protect himself from minor cuts, he wore protective sleeves, covering both arms.
Just getting the opportunity to play at the collegiate level is a big accomplishment for Watson, who plans to return to Kaua’i to work in the outdoors.
“I’m currently majoring in environmental studies,” Watson said.
But before that, there’s definitely more business left on the playing surface for Watson, who has a few years to go at UH.
He is the son of Aaron and Lei Watson of Nanakuli.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.