I haven’t really done opinion pieces for Block U in the past, but I decided to write one now because, well, I want to. I think the timing of this is also relevant given the commitment of Puka Nacua to the Washington Huskies, assuring yet another year of Utah failing to reel in the top in-state player.
If you watched his announcement on KSL last night, one thing you might have noticed is that his mom, Penina Nacua, did not seem thrilled that he was leaving the state. She seemed like she would have preferred he stayed in state to play with older brother Samson Nacua for the hometown Utah Utes. While Utah fans likely were not happy to see yet another top Utah high school athlete leave for a Pac-12 rival, the fact that Puka was able to make the decision he wanted (Washington) and was not pressured into making the decision his mother wanted (Utah), is refreshing. I will not name names here, but I know of multiple four-star recruits that were silent commits to Utah for months that went elsewhere for college because their mothers wanted them somewhere besides Utah.
As a parent, you want what is best for your child. It is easy to think we know what is best for our children. We have more life experience and have gone through many of the challenging situations or made the tough decisions they are struggling with while growing up. But, we grew up in a different time and are different people from our children. They ultimately are the ones that have to live their lives, not us. Having a child has made me appreciate my own parents more and has helped me understand where they were coming from when raising me. My parents let me make my own decisions, and I am thankful for that. I made the decision to move to a different state for graduate school at 20, and it was something I did not fully realize I needed until I left. It helped me grow and become more self reliant.
Children need to be able to go to their parents for advice. But, they also need to be able to make their own choices. I hope more parents, whether their child is a highly-touted athlete or not, can be there for their children the way Penina Nacua was for Puka Nacua, supporting him through one of the biggest decisions of his life, even if it was not her choice for him.