Long Beach Polys roster lists senior James Chubba Maae with a series of numbers: he wears jersey number 53, hes 62, and he weighs 335 pounds.
As significant as those numbers may be, they dont tell the story of Maaes significance to the Jackrabbits football program. The captain has played all over the teams offensive line and has been dominant at defensive tackle as well, impacting almost every play of every game. His skill and size have earned him several Division 1 scholarship offers, but even that info doesnt fully tell the story.
Hes a real leader, and he does everything the right way, said Poly coach Stephen Barbee after a recent practice. You want a whole team full of James Maaes.
Maae started playing tackle football at the age of four, when his uncle told his mom to bring him out to the Long Beach Browns, since Maae already towered over most other kids his age. His nickname came from his cousin, Samoana Poyer.
When I was born, everyone called me chubs, he said. She couldnt say it, she kept calling me Chubba, so it just stuck.
His first year of football, Maae played at fullback. Since then, hes been a lifelong lineman, playing on offense and defense, and learning to appreciate both. Hes a ferocious competitor and is often cheered by his teammates as he plows a defender 20 yards downfield on a block. But hes also a happy warrior, quick to put his arm around a teammate literally and metaphorically.
Hes everyones friend, but he holds everyone accountable, said Barbee. Hes the hardest worker on the team, and he leads by example, not by talkingon the field, and in the classroom. He makes sure everyone feels at home, whether youre a freshman or a senior.
The above characteristics all apply to Maae, but they also apply to other Polynesian players to have come through Poly over the years. Maae is a leader in his community as well, having been chosen by teammates and coaches to lead the teams pre-game patia chant.
One of the joys at Poly for Maae this year has been the influx of Polynesian players in the programs lower levels. For decades, Polynesian players filled Polys roster, but their presence had waned in the last few years.
When I was younger all my cousins played here, and I would shadow them at school, there was a whole bunch of Samoans, he said. The last few years, there werent that many of usits great know, its like having a family away from home.
Barbee is happy to have more Polynesian players involved this year, and to have a senior leader among their ranks.
The Polynesian community had dwindled a little when I got here, he said. We had five players in the programthis year we have 31. As a culture and a community they bring a sense of hard work and honesty and family. There are high expectations, and James has been a big part of bringing everyone together.
Long Beach Poly will play at Rancho Cucamonga this Friday in the CIF-SS Division 2 quarterfinals.
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