Kalei Navares: Taking Senior Year Head On

Hope Ishizaka, Director of Sales

     Senior year is the last year of being a “kid” until students enter the real world of college, joining the workforce and paying taxes. Due to this, many people designate senior year to go all out and try new things for their last year of high school. For Senior Kaleilehuaamealani “Kalei” Navares, this is true as she stepped outside of her comfort zone and played on the football team during her senior year. 

      “I wanted to play because I always wanted to try it out and I said, ‘You know it’s my senior year, might as well make it worth it,’” said Kalei Navares. 

     During her last year, Kalei Navares decided to play on the team as a defensive back. For her, trying a new sport was a big change, but playing football with the boys was a different challenge in itself. “It is very difficult because of locker rooms or when we went up to Samoa it was the bathroom whole issue,” said Kalei Navares. “So it was kind of difficult but we kind of went around it and we did what we had to do.”

     Despite the challenges Kalei Navares has faced, she has created great friendships and bonds with her teammates. Kalei Navares also plays alongside her younger brother, Junior Kaulanaikaleoaukahiokala “Kaulana” Navares who is the kicker on the team. The sibling duo has grown closer since they have begun playing with one another. “My favorite thing about football: getting to meet new people that I think I would never ever ever ever get to know, but I ended up really liking them in the end. And then just the experience — and just having fun,” said Kalei Navares. Kaulana Navares added, “The most rewarding part is showing her how big of a family and how big of a group the football boys are because when I first joined they were very nice with me, even though they didn’t know me. I’m guessing that’s how they bond because a lot of freshmen came and they all didn’t know me but they immediately became my friends. And I was just happy to see her experience that.”

    Kalei Navares is a dual sport athlete as she plays soccer for her club as well as for the high school. After she graduates she will be attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ. “Similarities are I’m very aggressive in both sports,” said Kalei Navares. “But I guess some differences are that I can get more mad in soccer than I can in football.”

     From freshman to senior year, Kalei Navares and close friends around her have noticed a significant growth in her athletics as well as an individual. She has learned patience and to step outside of her comfort zone. “She has grown over the years as an athlete by pushing herself to pick up a new sport that is not typically played by girls which she needed to train hard for day in and day out in order to get where she is today,” said close friend and Senior Kylie Takamoto. Kaulana Navares added, “I admire her perseverance because whenever she thinks something’s too hard, she doesn’t quit and she always tries to do better the next time.”

     As Navares is an AP student and dual sport athlete, she has a lot to balance out. In order to do this, she follows what she has learned from football which is to have a good mindset and to stay positive. “But to tell you the truth, just focus on what you want to get out in the end. Like if you want to get academics out in the end, then focus on your academics. If you want to get athletics out in the end, then focus on your athletics,” said Kalei Navares.  

     Kalei Navares will be studying mechanical engineering and playing soccer on a partial scholarship when she attends Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall of 2020. Her next football game will be on Sept. 7 at Waianae High School.