By Adam McDougall, St. Thomas University Journalism
Tyler Fiaui is from Fredericton, NB and despite being 7’0” tall he is relatively new to the game of basketball. He has a tremendous amount of potential with this game, but it is his commitment to academics and the long term goal of having a great education that is so inspiring. This is his story.
I’ve played basketball for four or five years now, but basketball was not the first sport that I played. I actually didn’t even get into basketball until one of my middle school teachers told me I should play. I played rugby before that. I was pretty big into rugby growing up, and I did taekwondo as well. My dad is from Samoa – where rugby is the national sport – so I’ve been playing rugby ever since I can remember. In addition to that, I started taekwondo when I was about four years old and stopped when I was twelve. The reason that my middle school teacher suggested I should start playing basketball was mostly my height. I am seven feet tall right now, but around the time I started playing basketball in middle school, I was around 5’10”, which was pretty tall for my age.
I started playing basketball just out of curiosity, but as I got more and more into it, I fell in love with it. I love the atmosphere of playing in big games and the rush that I get in the last minutes of close games. The atmosphere is what made me fall in love with the sport, and it’s what makes me want to keep playing.
When I first started playing, I used to go watch as many videos of NBA players as I could, and one of the players that really caught my eye was Kobe Bryant. As I continued to get into basketball, I started looking at guys like Giannis Antetokounmpoand Joel Embiid because they were big guys that were closer to my position. I would watch how they play and how they move, especially in the newer style of the NBA where big men are starting to handle the ball a lot more, yet still make use of their size.
As a Kobe fan, the last week has been incredibly brutal. The day after he passed, I had to excuse myself from one of my classes because we started talking about him, and it was just too much for me to even think about at the time. It seemed – and still seems – somewhat unbelievable. It’s a really sad time.
My game is unique because, for my position, and particularly being the big guy that I am, I’m pretty athletic. I think I move really well around the court, and I’m quick for my size. What separates me from other big guys is the ability to move, and being quicker than most of my competition.
One of the things I’m proudest of when it comes to basketball is my coachability. Ever since I started playing sports, I’ve always been told to listen to what a coach has to say because they see the game from a completely different perspective than athletes on the court. That is to say that, when you’re in the game, you don’t notice as much about your surroundings as you may think you do, so when a coach gives you advice, or tells you what they see, you should really take that in and consider what they are saying instead of just brushing it off. It really boils down to just trying to make the most of what they tell you, and trying to improve at all times.
My plans for the future are by no means a certainty, but one thing that is for sure is that I want to get a good education. Basketball is an amazing sport, and there are all kinds of great opportunities that come along with it, but education trumps everything. It’s incredibly important to get a good education. Even if I were to be a very successful basketball player, that success is not guaranteed for an entire lifetime – injuries can happen, and careers can be cut short – but education is something that will last you as long as you need it to. My goal is to go to a good school, ideally a Division-1 school in the States, and get a great education somewhere. That will give me a great foundation for my future.
I don’t have a career path that I’ve specifically chosen for myself right now, but my favourite subjects in school are in the sciences. I’m really into biology and chemistry, so I think that, for the future, a career in one of those fields would be a great fit for me.