March 19, 2001
1997 letter of intent signing day at Woodinville High School. (standing, I-r): Kurt Criscione, Mark Leander, Mike Bertram, Dave Jones, Manu Tuiasopo. (seated): Marques Tuiasosopo, Sally Conniff, Pat Conniff. Both Tuiasosopo and Conniff committed to playing for the UW Huskies
Photo courtesy of the Tuiasosopo family.
Huskies from Woodinville make it happen
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Retired Leota Junior High Coach, Terry Eagle, recalled the 1994-95 school year when he coached Marques Tuiasosopo and Pat Conniff. Tuiasosopo and Conniff were in the eighth grade.
Coach Eagle remembered that there were many good players on Leota's football team that year. "We went undefeated that season and won the championship," he said. "The key to winning isn't always winning. It's execution, execution, execution. That was my theme," Eagle said of the philosophy he taught his players. "And I always said, 'there's eleven of them and eleven of us.' "
As for Tuiasosopo and Conniff, Coach Eagle said, "They had great attitudes and spirit and always worked hard." After playing for Leota, both Tuiasosopo and Conniff went on to play for Woodinville High and then the University of Washington where they became the bright, hardworking spirit of the Husky football team.
Conniff attributes his football accomplishments to his former Leota Junior High coach. Said Conniff, "Coach Eagle is an awesome coach. I think I've been fortunate to have had two great coaches, Coach Eagle and Coach (Terry) Agnew at Woodinville High."
Tuiasosopo said he was pleased to see his former junior high and high school coaches attend the city of Woodinville's special presentation, held in their honor on March 12.
Eagle recalled an instruction he gave Tuiasosopo when he played for Leota. "I said, 'Tui, if it doesn't happen, you make it happen.'"
And the rest is history. Tuiasosopo, Husky team captain, broke records in both the Husky and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) books. He is UW's all-time total offense leader, the only Husky with over 6,000 career total yards.
And he continued to "make it happen" straight through to the Rose Bowl victory, a game where Tuiasosopo sprained a right shoulder in the third quarter and then came back to make the winning difference over Purdue. He was voted Most Valuable Player of the Rose Bowl game as well as of the Pac 10 Conference.
Tuiasosopo said the Rose Bowl game is one he'll never forget. "It was one of the best experiences. It was magical," he said.
Conniff also made things happen throughout his Husky season, though a knee-injury during the Oregon State game temporarily sidelined him. Eagle recalled a special instruction he had for Conniff when he played for Leota, "I said, Patrick, your job is to carry the ball and punish people."
That advice may have contributed to Conniff's football achievements. This year, he was presented the "Tough Husky Award" for being the Husky team's toughest player. But off the field, Conniff doesn't seem like a tough punisher at all. As he spoke of the Rose Bowl game, he had his teammate,
Curtis Williams, on his mind. "To have Curtis Williams there was a big factor. It was special to have him there," said Conniff. Williams has been paralyzed from the neck down since he was injured in a helmet-to-chest hit during a Washington game at Stanford last October. After defeating Purdue at the Rose Bowl game, the Husky team said that they won it for Williams.
News reporters have written that Conniff has a sometimes-rascal nature. But if that's true, it didn't show one bit as he talked about Williams and his longtime friend, Tuiasosopo.
Conniff and Tuiasosopo have been friends since they played basketball together in the fifth grade. "In junior high we became closer friends," Conniff said.
He expressed his thankfulness to the community of Woodinville for their support. "It's an all around good community and we're appreciative," he said. Tuiasosopo is also appreciative and addressed the entire City of Woodinville, "Thank you for the awesome support."
In addition to the support of his former coaches and the community, Tuiasosopo credits his success to his parents, Manu and Tina, and to his faith in God. Manu Tuiasosopo, a former defensive tackle with the Seahawks, thought back to the time his son first became interested in football.
He and his wife wanted their kids to be active. "We put them in choir and band," he said. But when Marques had the opportunity to play football, "That did it," remarked his dad. He added that his son had been involved with other sports as well.
For now, Marques Tuiasosopo and Pat Conniff are focusing on the completion of school.Both will graduate in June. But what's next? "The NFL draft might be a possibility," said Conniff. He said he's also interested in working with the Fire Dept.
Tuiasosopo said that after he graduates he'll see how far he can go with football. And for Marques Tuiasosopo, if it doesn't happen ‹ then, naturally, he can make it happen.