Inoke Moala’s story is one of adversity and injury, but also one of perseverance and success. Moala is a senior defensive end this year for the football team.
He was named a pre-season 4th team All-American this year, and he and his coaches believe he can finish the year ranked even higher. With such high expectations, it seems that Moala is at the top of the game, but the path to get here has been long and filled with challenges.
Moala played in a few games his freshman season at linebacker, and then was switched to defensive end for his sophomore season when a new coaching staff was brought in. The transition, though not without its difficulties, was made very well. Going into his junior season, Moala was going to be counted on to be a leader on defense both on and off the field, but he had no idea how much his leadership role was about to change.
Inoke only made it four games into his junior season before a wrist injury cut his season short. It was a disappointing end to such a promising season, and the road to recovery was not any easier.
Talking about the rehab process, Moala stated, “The hardest part was not being able to do anything.” He would go on to mention that it took an immense amount of patience to endure the rehab process and not rush his recovery.
Despite not being on the field, Moala was still counted on to be a leader, and he took that to heart. When asked about how Inoke stayed a leader through the injury and rehab, Mark Smith, Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Line Coach stated, “As a leader of this team... He just kept his head down and kept fighting through it.”
Moala knew that it was important to stay positive in front of his teammates and encourage and inspire them, even if he couldn’t participate with them on the field. Moala eventually made it through rehab and was ready to go for the 2019 season. He was energized and ready to be back, and his teammates were just as excited to have him back.
“He helped our defensive line tremendously,” said teammate Kris Reid. The coaches were just as excited to have him back. “You’re a lot better coach when you got good players,” said Coach Smith.
Now, he is coming into his last season as a Sycamore, and even though expectations are high from the outside, Moala has even higher expectations for himself. He was honored by the All-American accolade, but also had this to say, “It was also, like, room for improvement, because, it was just 4th team, so I was happy, but I know there’s a lot of work to be done.”