A Football Family

The Olevao Family Is Entrenched In The Highland Football Program


Spencer Baese

Tiare Olevao cheers on the Rams during Highland’s victory over Murray.

Ainsley Black, Staff Writer

The Black Hole was raging on Oct. 1 at Highland’s Homecoming game. Winning 25-3, the team had full support from the student body, as well as Highland’s players’ families.

But no group was more vocal and devoted than the Olevao family, led by Tiare Olevao. Mrs. Olevao is not new to the Highland football fandom and has loved the game since watching her cousins play when she was a young girl. She grew up watching Highland football and continued that love as a Highland student.

Now, she is watching this generation of Highland football players grow up – literally, as she has a current senior on the team in her home, a son who played and graduated three years ago, and a rather significant connection to the man calling all the shots in the program this year.

Her husband, head coach Kautai Olevao, is not new to the sport but is new to being the head football coach at Highland. With his son on the team, and a wife in the stands along with many extended family members supporting, Fall Family Football takes on a whole new meaning.

And a whole lot of stress.

“I am enjoying watching them, and I am stressing out alongside them,” Mrs. Olevao said. “I feel like I’m on the football field with my son.”

Mrs. Olevao is not only a spectator and lover of the sport, she is part of the team. When the team has difficult practices or a stressful game, she is always there to support them.

This is a nice balance for Ashton Olevao, who is a senior on the team… and the son of the head coach. Although his father has coached on the staff, this is his first year as the head coach.
“It has gotten a little harder and a little stressful,” Ashton said, speaking on his dad’s new position. “But we just push through it and overcome those hard things as a family.”

Sitting around the Olevao extended family at games, the love and support for the whole team is clearly displayed. Whether related or not, these Highland spectators come together to form a football family. There is undeniable excitement for this team.

During the Homecoming game, which turned into Highland’s first victory of the season, Mrs. Olevao could be heard encouraging and cheering on the team. Winning or losing, she is always devoted to the players.

Mrs. Olevao was intensely watching the field holding a sign with Ashton’s name in lights. Her full attention was on the game; she was not affected by things around her. In fact, she likely couldn’t hear what others were saying anyway because of how loudly she cheered while dancing after big plays.

But she wasn’t just cheering for her husband or son, she views every person on the field as part of her family.

“I treat all of the kids as if they are my own son,” Mrs. Olevao said. “So, I use the same tone of voice as I do with my own children, I love them as if they are my own children as well.”

But it’s hard to ignore that Ashton, a senior on the team, sits down for dinner every night with the man who, by job description, must be his harshest critic.

“Having my dad as a coach is hard sometimes, but we know when it’s time to coach it’s strictly coaching, and when it’s family it’s strictly family,” Ashton said. “But here and there we’ll review mistakes I’ve made and go over them.”

The position Ashton’s dad has does not mean he gets special treatment. Ashton is the same as other players on the team.

“There are no benefits,” Ashton said. “My dad treats me just like all the other players. He does yell at me but that’s to make me better and the team.”

There was a quick transition between coaches last year before coach Olevao became the head of the team. Former head coach Brody Benson left abruptly in December 2020, leaving Highland little time to find his replacement. Luckily, Olevao was already familiar with the team.

Now the team is just part of family – literally in some cases as his son and nephew are included among the players.

“Initially we were not going to accept the job,” Mrs. Olevao said. “However, taking into consideration Ashton, my son, and all his teammates, along with all the underclassmen, and in those underclassmen are my own nephews. After thinking about it more, we wanted to play a big role in each of their lives.”

Because of the big role Olevao has taken on, it can be disappointing and hard for him if a game does not go smoothly for the team.  As both a parent and a coach, disappointment can be felt from a professional and personal viewpoint.

Although Mrs. Olevao has felt disappointment because of losses, she has seen full support from other Highland parents no matter the outcome of games.

“Our Highland parents are not complainers,” Mrs. Olevao said. “I have not had one parent approach me saying anything negative about the football program.”

With the homecoming game being the only win, Highland did not have the season it envisioned, finishing with a 1-8 overall record. But the players agree that it did feel like a family. Despite the hardship, the team’s support system that the Olevao’s helped build will remain loyal and strong.

And very loud.