Federal Way Eagles senior lineman Timothy Faoa is loved.
Coaches call him Tim. Teammates call him Timmy, and Federal Way parents go with the more traditional Timothy.
Faoa is a quiet kid. As the Eagles’ lone senior captain, he lets his actions, both on and off the field, speak for him. He’s currently quieter now than ever, however, after losing both of his grandparents — the two people Faoa credits with molding him into who he is today over the last eight years, with his grandfather passing in April.
The passing of Faoa’s heroes and biggest supporters left him reeling over the summer.
Faoa is not allowing the loss and grief consume him, however, so he is dedicating his senior season academically and on the gridiron to his grandparents in the hopes of showing them he is exactly who they raised him to be.
“It’s been hard for me,” Faoa said. “First my grandmother died, and I was just a kid, still had so much to learn [from her]. Then my grandfather recently died, and that was a wake up call for me to get it going.”
The death of his grandfather could not have come at a worse time as the junior headed into summer break even though both his mom and uncle were available and willing to help if he ever needed it.
Faoa needed his grandparents, however. He tried not to think about the fact that neither of his heroes would be in the stands at Federal Way Memorial Stadium to watch his final high school football season and that neither of them would watch him receive his high school diploma.
“These people raised me, and it was really hard for me,” Faoa said. “Once my grandfather passed away in April, it was a struggle, and it consumed me, and that was hard to deal with going into my senior year.”
The distraction Faoa needed arrived on Aug. 21, the first day of fall practice for Federal Way football.
Just over five months had passed, and Eagles coach John Meagher was completely unaware that his senior captain was dealing with a significant loss.
Faoa told his coaches about his loss as the preseason went on, but prior to then, what struck Meagher most was how Faoa carried himself with his work ethic and his teammates.
“If you didn’t know what was going on with him, you wouldn’t ever know,” Meagher said. “That smile and that fun spirit you see when you talk to him is there all the time, and it was there when we first started.”
Faoa said informing coaches and teammates about what he was going through helped take a great deal of weight from his shoulders.
His “goofy” side returned as the Eagles’ second game of the season against the Kentridge Chargers approached.
Faoa traded his emotional weight for heavy responsibility, not just as a team captain but leading a team that has just 12 seniors.
“He’s really taken the role on,” Meagher said. “He’s THE senior captain, so he’s done an excellent job holding the reigns on that.”
As the Kentridge game neared, Faoa’s grief slowly start to lift.
His teammates needed him. They needed his leadership, and they needed his savage pass-rush ability, too.
Faoa went about his pre-game routine like normal. He took some snaps at center, and he worked with his offensive and defensive lines.
When the lights at Federal Way Memorial Stadium came on, he had to check real life at the door.
“It was a bit of a blessing,” Faoa said. “It really filled me up and got me ready for this year to be with this team.”
Faoa has learned from the loss of his grandparents, too.
He said the loss has given him a greater sense of love and appreciation for the people around him.
And they love Faoa right back.