Last week, amid the plethora of announcements on high school sports stars committing to various colleges, the Serra High School athletic department tweeted the news that football player Malachi Mageo had committed to the University of Hawaii.
It received more retweets than most --- not because of the commitment itself, but because of the student involved. In his years at Serra High School, Malachi Mageo has beaten the odds on the field, in the classroom, and in the hospital room.
Two summers ago, Mageo was an innocent bystander in a tragic confrontation that left him stabbed and missing a kidney. He was told he would never have his old life back, especially the part that involved his passion: playing fierce and competitive football. It took him months to fully recover, and during that time he missed a lot of school.
When told he would not graduate on time, he was disappointed but determined as well. He signed up to be the school mascot, and joined the school’s LIFE Team, a faith-based student group that leads the school in Mass, adoration and retreats. During honor roll assemblies, his name always got the biggest ovation. He was loved by all, even winning homecoming court his senior year.
At the end of what would have been his last football season (2012), he had helped secure his team a State CIF title, making a huge interception in a playoff game leading up to the state tournament. However, he had not been offered any scholarships for football at the end of four years, and some thought the opportunity was lost because he was not finished with his high school degree.
Head football coach Scott Altenberg and athletic director Ted Dunlap lobbied for Mageo to get a hardship waiver, which allowed him to come back to Serra for another semester. Mageo took the opportunity and became the true leader of the Serra football team, leading its defense to several shutouts and making huge plays to lead them to the CIF Western Division title game, where the Cavaliers were edged by eventual state champion Chaminade.
Now, the culmination of five years of hard work, pain and faith have paid off. Malachi Mageo is going to Hawaii, to attend a four-year university and play the game that saved his life.