Mesa linebacker Koa Asing playing well in his final season
Koa Asing tried going by his given English name, but it didn’t go over well.
The Colorado Mesa University senior’s real name is Steele Chase Asing, after the Pittsburgh Steelers because his dad is a fan of the NFL team.
When he explains the story of his first name, “People trip out on me,” Asing said.
Instead, he goes by his Hawaiian name of Kane Koa Asing.
He’s grown accustomed to the good-natured ribbing from his football teammates.
“We give him crap all the time and the way he pronounces things because of his accent,” senior tight end Robert Felberg said. “He’s been here a while now, so he’s adjusted, but we still give him crap.”
The Mavericks’ linebacker plays along.
“I feel like they feed off of me,” Asing said. “They say I’m a typical Hawaiian. It’s all fun.
“Some of my lingo I say, they start picking it up and act like me at times just to mess with me. Instead of saying, ‘Oh, OK, bye.’ I’ll say, ‘Oh, OK, shootz.’ “
Shootz is Hawaiian for OK, cool.
Asing isn’t boisterous, and he doesn’t talk much, but he’s stepped in and started all but one game this season after the Mavericks lost four linebackers to graduation last year.
He has 32 tackles this season, including four for a loss. He forced a fumble last week against Colorado School of Mines.
“He’s a good kid,” CMU defensive coordinator Todd Auer said. “He’s athletic. Even when I got here, I thought he was raw. If we had him for five years, I think that would’ve made him a lot better.”
“He forced a fumble last week; he’s had times he’s made some good plays for us. Each week he gets better. He’s playing harder.”
Asing is from Aiea, Hawaii, not to be confused with Samoa, another Polynesian country in the Pacific Ocean.
“Our culture is different,” Asing said. “It’s similar, but it’s different. The languages and dialects are different. The delicacies are different. Being from the islands, you can tell if someone is Hawaiian or Samoan.”
Asing went to Allan Hancock (Calif.) Junior College out of Aiea High School. He played defensive end his freshman year, but has played linebacker since his sophomore year.
Asing transferred to Mesa in 2010 and redshirted his first year in Grand Junction.
“I like it a lot (at Mesa),” Asing said. “The college atmosphere is good. There is a lot to do.
“When I came here, that was the first time I’ve seen snow,” Asing said. “It was good maybe for the first hour. Then I was over it.”
He’s adjusted to the four seasons and the culture differences so much, it’s hard for him to imagine his college experience is coming to an end.
“It’s bittersweet,” Asing said of his final season. “I’m probably the oldest kid on the team. There are kids 17, 18 years old out here. I tell all the redshirts you might as well enjoy it because your life is over after that pretty much.”
Asing is on target to graduate in May and plans to return to Hawaii.