Congressman Faleomavaega today offers his personal congratulations to Ken Niumatalolo who was recently selected by the U.S. Naval Academy to be the new head coach for the Midshipmen football team. Ken is considered to be the first NCAA head coach of any collegiate sport who is of Samoan-Polynesian descent. He is the son of Simi Niumatalolo of Aua and La Niumatalolo of Pago Pago, American Samoa.
On December 8, 2007, Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk promoted Ken as head coach after former Midshipmen coach Paul Johnson accepted a job offer from Georgia Tech. Prior to Navy, Ken was an assistant coach at both University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and his alma mater, the University of Hawaii, in which as quarterback, he led them to their first postseason bowl appearance in 1989. As head coach, Ken will be leading his Navy Midshipmen for the first time against the Utah Utes at the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday, December 20, 2007 in San Diego, California.
Currently, there are four Polynesians on the Midshipmen roster including two from American Samoa, senior Benjamin Gabbard and sophomore Penetekoso Peau. Ben is a senior offensive lineman and has played in every Navy game since 2005. He is the son of William Gabbard, from the village of Leloaloa, American Samoa and Mary Lynn Gabbard; they currently reside in Maryland. Penetekoso is a sophomore defensive lineman and is getting ready to replace the upperclassmen who are graduating next year. Pene is the son of Lelei Peau and Tui Peau of Fagasa and Nu’uuli, American Samoa respectively.
“After receiving news of Ken’s promotion as head coach for Navy, I immediately called to congratulate him for achieving such an esteemed honor and responsibility as being the new head coach for the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen football team,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Ken brings great pride to Samoans and all Polynesians because he has reached the highest position for coaching in any level of NCAA collegiate football.”
“To my knowledge, Ken maybe the first head coach of any collegiate sport with Polynesian roots in the NCAA. I have always known Ken and his family from his early days in Laie. Especially when he was the quarterback for the University of Hawaii Warriors in the 1980s and have also kept track of his progress as an assistant coach for both UNLV and Navy. As an offensive line coach for Navy, Ken played a vital role in having the best rushing offense in the nation for the past five years. ”
“Ken is a perfect example of the achievements many of our Polynesian athletes have accomplished both on and off the field. I know for a fact that there are many assistant coaches and graduate assistants in almost all conferences in the West and the rest of the nation. From the Pac-10 to the SEC, Polynesians have a strong presence in the rosters and faculty. This also includes the many Polynesians who are coaches and players in the Canadian Football League and the National Football League.”
“Again, I want to congratulate Ken on his new appointment as head coach and I wish him all the best in the future. I would be remiss if I did not also mention our 15 Polynesian players, many of whom are Samoans, that are currently on the Utes roster as well the many families and friends who will be watching and supporting all of our boys play in the Poinsettia Bowl,” concluded Congressman Faleomavaega.