Positivity absorbed in the D-line


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Sophomore R.J. Ma’Ae flexes his biceps after making a big stop for the Comets in the 2018 season. Ma’Ae finished his career with the Comets with 75 tackles, 10.5 of those for losses.

By Luis Cortes, Sports Editor

For many people, sports is a haven that doesn’t simply offer a mental escape. It’s a thing you do to stay out of trouble.

This is the case for sophomore linebacker R.J. Kobe Ma’Ae, who, when he was 3 years old, relocated from Honolulu, Hawaii to Tacoma, Washington with his mother and three other siblings.

At a young age Ma’Ae’s mother made sure he was involved in sports — to stay out of trouble. Ma’Ae values football, family and God above everything else.

“I don’t remember much of Hawaii. I moved to Tacoma when I was 3. But it was cool growing up in Washington. I was involved a lot in sports as a kid, it was fun — it kept me out of trouble,” Ma’Ae said.

Growing up, Ma’Ae loved to play football, not only to avoid trouble but because it was so much fun.

Throughout his time playing football, Ma’Ae has come across useful information that helped not only on the field, but also when navigating life.

“I loved football because I got to hit people for free and not go to jail. Even to this day I still feel the same. It’s a good outlet for me and it helped build my character,” Ma’Ae said. “Football has taught me how to learn to play for a team filled with a lot of personalities.”

One thing Ma’Ae leans on is his ability to be a leader and constantly do the right thing. Growing up with a single mother and living in a household with three other siblings and his grandparents taught him to be a responsible person and a leader.

It is a trait he takes to the football field, which instantly earned the respect of his teammates at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett, Washington where he graduated in 2015 — and also at Contra Costa College.

“I consider myself one of the leaders of the team. I’m not a selfish person. I got my leadership from my mother. Growing up, my mom was a single parent. She raised me and my three siblings together with my grandparents. She was the leader in the house and she instilled that in me,” Ma’Ae said.

As a transplant to California, Ma’Ae didn’t have a connection with many people here, but things changed when twins Frank and Chris Sheckles moved to the Bay Area three years ago from Seattle.

Soon after meeting and getting to know each other, the three decided to move in together.

“I’ve known R.J. for three years now and didn’t know him (Ma’Ae) that well before college. I only knew of him somewhat in high school in Washington,” Chris Sheckles said.

Chris said that Ma’Ae is a great example and role model to have at his disposal and throughout the years, Ma’Ae has been a positive influence on him while living and playing together.

“He (Ma’Ae) always influenced me to be positive, because it’s hard when you’re young and away from your parents. You could get caught up in doing bad things. He’s a positive role model because he keeps you focused on the good and not the bad in life,” Chris Sheckles said.

Along with being a great role model for his teammates, Ma’Ae carries himself as a professional, only focusing on the job.

“Ma’Ae doesn’t play when it comes to football. It’s business when he hits the football field,” Chris Sheckles said.

Freshman Frank Sheckles was surprised when he moved to the Bay Area to find Ma’Ae living here and attending Contra Costa College to play football. Since moving in together, they have improved their relationship on and off the field.

Frank Sheckles said, “When I came out here, I didn’t know he (Ma’Ae) was out here or playing football — it was a nice surprise. We’re like brothers now. Living together and playing together has helped grow our bond. Before, we weren’t great friends, I only saw him around sporting events in Washington.”

Both Frank and Chris Sheckles praise Ma’Ae for his life advice and lessons he has taught them. Most importantly, the duo is thankful for his cleanliness around the house.

“Along with being a good football player, he (Ma’Ae) works hard watching film. He knows so much that at times he would call out players before the coach would or know what the different teams we played where doing,” Frank Sheckles said.

The 2019 football season was Ma’Ae’s last at CCC, since he has decided to accept an offer to play at Simon Fraser University on a football scholarship.

It is a Division II school located in Burnaby, British Columbia.

“I’ve got friends that were killed and not doing anything. I’m thankful to be in school and be able to play ball,” Ma’Ae said.

His roommates and friends say they will miss him dearly because of the things he taught them and the values he has installed in them.

“I feel sad knowing he’s leaving and it will be hard because I feel like he’s my brother. He instilled a lot in me.

“If it weren’t for him I don’t know what I would be doing in community college,” Chris Sheckles said.,