Soni Misi is a big guy. Tall and broad of shoulders, he walks with a certain swagger that just takes up room.
Being large is probably one of the best traits a man can have in Misi’s line of work. The Rancho Cotate alumni is a football player—one of the best. He plays at the moment for the Bear Cubs at Santa Rosa Junior College, but last week he signed a contract with Texas Christian University (TCU), a Division I school, to play for them.
Signing with a Division I university is the dream for any aspiring football player. It’s the first real step to playing professionally for the National Football League. And for Misi, TCU has special significance.
“It’s just something I’ve dreamed of since I was little,” Misi said. “I toured TCU before high school and my auntie drove me around the school. She told me, ‘Maybe one day you can go here and I can watch you.’ I’ve loved the school ever since.”
It’s actually remarkable that Misi is able to compete at the level that he does. Misi got a bit of a late start in football, though it certainly wasn’t by his own choice. By his own admission he was a large kid growing up. Too large, in fact, for football, and that size kept him from joining with the Rohnert Park Warriors.
“I was too overweight to play,” Misi said. “They told me to lose 40 pounds in two weeks, but my Mom said, ‘No, that’s not gonna happen.’ That’s how I got into lacrosse. It was the closest hitting sport I could find.”
Misi had to sit on the sidelines, watching his friends enjoy the game he so desperately longed to play. It tore him up inside.
“That sucked. Watching my friends play when I couldn’t was hard,” Misi said.
Luckily things changed as Misi grew older. He got into high school and began lifting. There, finally, he slimmed down enough to play for the junior varsity Cougars. His team performed terribly that year with a 1-8 record, but Misi had fought too long and hard to play football to let something like a little losing streak ruin his experience.
The breakthrough came for Misi when Ed Conroy, head coach at the time for the Rancho Cotate Cougars, noticed him during a scrimmage. Conroy moved Misi up to the varsity squad during his sophomore year, and under Conroy and Gehrig Hotaling, the offensive coordinator at the time, Misi grew into his own. He played offensive guard for three years until Santa Rosa Junior College picked him up after graduation.
Now Misi plays defensive tackle. It’s a position that he asked for and one he enjoys as it affords him a chance to play more aggressively.
“I worked the defensive line coach, Martin Tevaseu, to get for the season. He never convinced me to come over. In fact, he was shocked when I told him I wanted to,” Misi said.
Family is the thing that Misi points to when asked for the secret to his success. According to Misi, they’ve supported him through much of his college career, supporting him room, board, and the all-important chance to chase after his dream free from distraction.
“I’m so thankful my family has had my back this whole time, supporting me all the way. I don’t know what I would do without them.”