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Playing football was always the dream for Skyline junior right tackle Daniel Ahanonu.
When his mother finally let him play at 12 years old, he and his team – which also featured fellow Skyline teammate Devynn Trahan – played in the championship game. After that, a swad of Oakland schools looked into adding players like them, hoping to add their talents to their schools.
That opened Ahanonu’s eyes to the opportunities past youth.
“Plus it’s like an extra ticket to get out of Oakland,” Ahanonu said. “Like Marshawn Lynch, Marcus Peters. You look up to those people because they started with nothing and they played high school ball out of Oakland, which is already a hard point because colleges don’t really like to look at Oakland and they made it out. We always wanted to be like them, and football is like a ticket out of Oakland.”
For much of Ahanonu’s life, Skyline was always a dream, too.
He was the little kid walking up to Skyline, hanging out with the guys. His older brother played there.
So, when he arrived at Skyline, those dreams came true, and they lived up to his wildest expectations.
“When I got here and I saw how much family oriented this team was, how much they had each other’s backs, it’s amazing,” Ahanonu said. “You would do anything for your brothers. You would do anything for your family. It’s like how to get excited and how to get hyped before a game, how they turn up together. When somebody falls, they lift them up, down to conditioning.
“If somebody is tired and they’re running behind and your brothers will pick you up. I feel like that motivates you to fight for your brothers. You would do anything for your family if they do anything for you.”
Since coming to Skyline, it’s only been a successful journey – one he credits to the coaching staff.
Where the coaching staff has also boosted Ahanonu is on the recruiting trail, doing whatever they can via social media and all platforms to get the student-athletes’ names out there, originally scheduling a game for Reno this season – which got canceled due to the pandemic – and pushing each of the kids to get a college education.
“I’m not even just saying it to just say it’s really coach (Joe) Bates,” Ahanonu said. “You could text coach Bates at like 2 in the morning that you need help with something, and quick reply like this. No question he will always be there for you. You can text him anytime. He installs this thing in us as being like performing to your perfection, like perfection.”
Over this offseason, Ahanonu is heeding the coaches’ message of staying in shape and always being prepared.
Even with a shutdown, all Ahanonu wants to do is stay in shape and be ready for whatever comes.
“I feel like even though this COVID stuff has been happening and stopping us from practicing, we want to,” Ahanonu said. “We’re still staying in shape with the weight room and staying on the field.”
What Ahanonu wants more than anything else right now, though, is a title at Skyline, continuing the storied history at the school – one filled with championships, NFL players, an NBA Hall of Famer in Gary Payton.
“I want a ring on my finger,” Ahanonu said. “Skyline has a rich tradition of championships and a rich tradition, not even just football alone. Sports wise Skyline has a rich tradition, and we kind of veered off that path, and I feel like we should try to bring it back. Once we bring back that pride and that ring at Skyline, everything is going to change. And then another goal, which is the main goal of high school football, not even a ring, it’s getting to college.”
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