Sept. 22, 2003
By Courtney Hastings, FSU Sports Information
Senior wide receiver Joey Kaleikini may not be the fastest or the strongest player on the team, but he may just have one of the biggest hearts. Kaleikini’s determination and self-motivation have played key roles in his success at Florida State. As a former walk-on, the Niceville, Fla., native was given a scholarship in the fall 2001.
“Being put on scholarship, after not being recruited and walking on was the last big thing to let me know that all of my hardwork was paying off,” Kaleikini said. “Seeing that made me feel good about the work I put in and gave me even more motivation to keep working hard because I knew that it was being noticed.”
Kaleikini decided to attend Florida State because it was far enough away from home but close enough to where he could still get back in a reasonable amount of time. He initially went to Florida State on a full academic scholarship to pursue a degree in biochemistry with hopes of attending medical school in the near future. After talking with Coach Billy Sexton during his senior year in high school, Kaleikini decided to walk-on to the football team.
“Joey is a very good athlete, a great student and a great kid,” Sexton said. “He has always been a smart player with all of his decisions.”
After playing quarterback in high school, learning to play wide receiver actually came naturally for Kaleikini. “Being a quarterback in high school, I knew how I wanted the receivers to go about running their routes and where I wanted them to be on certain defenses,” he said.
“With this being the same mentality of our quarterbacks, it kind of helps me to defend my route running and to get in places where I need to be in order to get open.”
Kaleikini’s versatility has made him somewhat of a go-to man. He’s the type of player that coaches really count on.
“Joey has been what we call around here a putty man,” offensive coordinator Jeff
Bowden said. “If you run a play and get a guy hurt, he can play because he has learned and knows all of the positions. It is really good for a coach to have a guy that you can do that with. It gives you comfort that if you fall short of people, here is a guy that can step in and pretty much do what you need in order to get the job done.”
Of the other wide receivers, Kaleikini is the only one who played on the Seminoles’ 1999 National Championship team. He has seen what it takes to get to the national championship game, win, compete the following year and make it back to another national championship game. This season, Kaleikini has added another element to his game and has been given the role of holder. He and Xavier Beitia worked together during spring, summer and two-a-day practices to get on the same page so that the process was a smooth one.
“We have fine-tuned the last couple of little things to where we are both real comfortable with each other and there should be no problems with the whole process,” said Kaleikini. “No one notices the place kick holder until something goes wrong. Hopefully I can go all season unnoticed because that would mean that nothing bad happened.”
“Joey has been a very reliable guy that has brought some fight and quite a bit of ability to special teams,” Coach Jody Allen said. Kaleikini considers his style of play to be more of the old school way of thinking because he gives his all every day and all day. He believes in the philosophy of the harder you work the better you will be.
“I am not so much a finesse, flashy kind of player, but just go as hard as you can, get the job done kind of player,” Kaleikini said. “I think that Joey has probably taken about as much or made about as much out of his experience as you could make to come in as a walk-on and to have earned a scholarship,” said Coach John Lilly. “I think that he has earned the respect of all of his teammates in the process.”
In the off-season, one can find Kaleikini near the beach. He is an avid beach volleyball player and competes in tournaments on the weekends. When Kaleikini is not playing volleyball, he enjoys spear fishing and scuba diving.
“I like to get around the water, get on the beach, kind of get away from it all,” said Kaleikini. “Anything with the sun and the ocean.”