The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009
If the Wilson football program is going to get back on track under second-year coach Scott Meyer, it’s going to take some strong leadership from guys like linebacker James Ma’ae.
After transferring from Millikan as a shy newcomer two years ago, Ma’ae is blossoming into someone Meyer can trust as another coach on the field.
“This year I see myself as more of a leader,” Ma’ae said. It’s my senior season so it’s my turn to step up and take command and help anywhere I can. It comes naturally. I’ve always wanted to help people, even outside of football.”
Ma’ae is part of the Leadership and Public Service pathway at Wilson where he really enjoys studying history and wants to be some kind of social worker in the future.
“I want to become some sort of social worker or something where I can make a difference in the world,” Ma’ae said. “If something is not right I want to change it back. My dad has always taught me to say something and don’t let people walk over you. If you have an opinion, stand up for it.”
“He’s a great kid and a hard worker,” Meyer said of Ma’ae. “He’s become more vocal in the weight room and he’s stepped up during team building stuff in the offseason.”
Ma’ae thinks the move to Wilson has helped him on and off the field.
“I love it here,” he said. “I feel like it’s the right environment for me. I have really cool teachers… and I’ve learned a lot from other guys like (2021 All-Moore League selection) Cordae Jones. He taught me how to stay disciplined when the runner passes you, and even just how to take care of your body. It’s stretching, drinking a lot of water and focusing on recovery.”
The ability to play his type of style has helped Ma’ae be more comfortable on the field.
“I play very calculatedly,” Ma’ae said. “I like to take the smart move instead of the always straight up aggressive move. I want to take the faster and better way.”
That approach makes sense for a Long Beach kid who grew up playing soccer, but chose to play football because of the culture.
“I just like how it's about growing up as a young man and building character,” Ma’ae said. “It’s more than just playing football. It’s about building a brotherhood. I feel like (football) is the best sport to learn that.”