Former HawCC Chancellor Named to Polynesian FB HOF
Former Hawai’i Community College chancellor Rockne Freitas was announced on Wednesday as one of five new members to be inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made Wednesday morning at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
Freitas led HawCC and the University of Hawai’i Center in West Hawai’i for six years. He has served in the UH system for almost 23 years. Currently, he is the chancellor at UH West Oahu, a position he will hold until the end of the year when he retires. Freitas has been at the West Oahu campus since May of 2013.
“The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame does great work to acknowledge the efforts of football players of Polynesian descent, and I am grateful for my selection. My fellow inductees, including two others from Hawai’i, served as pioneers for Polynesians in the NFL and I am honored to be inducted with those esteemed individuals,” Freitas said.
Freitas, born on Oahu, played college football at Oregon State University. He was a third round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1967 NFL Draft and played 13 seasons in the league, 12 of them with the Detroit Lions. He played 13 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978, his final season.
Family was a big motivation for Freitas throughout his football career, especially from his mother, Ellen Kekalokeaokekaulike (Kane) Freitas, who constantly kept education at the top of his mind.
“Football was a way for me to pursue an education, due to receiving a scholarship to play at Oregon State University. My mom, who passed when she was 55 years old due to cancer, told me about the importance of getting a college education, advice that stayed with me throughout my life. I don’t know where I would be today without her pushing me. For me, football and education were equally important and I was motivated to succeed in both due to my mom,” Freitas explained.
An All-Pro offensive lineman in 1970, Freitas was urged to seriously consider continuing his education as his career winded down. He said that his mother even suggested that year that he leave football and enroll in graduate school. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1972, and in the following offseason, followed through on his mom’s advice and enrolled at UH.
Among Freitas’ many accomplishments while working in the UH system, he is credited for spearheading the effort to get Hawai’i’s athletic programs out of the floundering Western Athletic Conference and into the growing Mountain West for football.
Joining Freitas in the 2016 class is former Steelers defensive back Troy Polumalu, Charles Ane Jr., former player with the Detroit Lions and two time Pro Bowl selection, Tonga-born Vai Sikahema, a two-time Pro Bowl running back with three different NFL teams, and Albert Lolotai, known as the first Samoan American and Polynesian to play American football.
The induction ceremony will be held on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 on Oahu.