He snickered. He tousled teammate Jarod Bryant’s hair. He joked around some more. He even blanked on a question and started to laugh about it.
And this was just while Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was on the podium for a press conference late last week at Navy’s media day.
The Hawaiian (who will henceforth be referred to by his first name, since that’s the approach everyone takes) seemed to enjoy attending a press conference more than pretty much anyone else in the room, and it made for plenty entertaining viewing for someone who didn’t necessarily have to pay close attention to whatever was being said.
“You have to have fun up there,” Kaipo said. “You’re sitting up there and guys who are completely silent and still. Relax, it’s a press conference.”
And pay attention, at least to Kaipo. He did everything he could not to laugh when new coach Ken Niumatalolo was droning on about conditioning (because, really, there probably isn’t a football coach in America who can talk about conditioning without droning on) toward the end of the nearly half-hour session.
So what was so funny to spark a near-outburst?
“I don’t do too well on long-distance running, and coach was talking about the PRT [physical readiness test,]” Kaipo said. “I was straining a little bit with the PRT and [press conference moderator Scott Strasemeier] was looking at me and he knew I struggled with it and finally passed it.”
At other moments, he was blatantly funny. Asked about being named to the Davey O’Brien Award watch list (which includes about a quarter of the major-college starting quarterbacks, which is why it’s a preseason list and not a particularly huge accomplishment), Kaipo blankly stared before acknowledging he wasn’t quite sure what that was.
Informed of the award’s meaning, he quickly pointed out it probably wasn’t for his passing (he’s completed 78 passes in about a season and a half as a starter).
To borrow the phrase about an erstwhile Boston outfielder while using it in a more complimentary way, that’s just Kaipo being Kaipo.
“Kaipo’s a little strange,” said Bryant, a quarterback-turned-slotback who sat next to Kaipo during the proceedings and got to hear a running commentary throughout. “He kept rubbing my leg up there, so I don’t know what that was about. I’m going to have to talk to him about getting a restraining order.”
I was pretty sure Bryant was kidding, though when someone’s describing a particularly offbeat person you never know. Fortunately, Bryant quickly added: “Nah, we were just goofing around up there.”
This part isn’t a joke: Assuming he stays in one piece and the Mids can reach six victories, Kaipo will likely become the first Navy quarterback to start two bowl games.
There’s little doubt he’ll keep things loose along the way.
“I don’t think it’s my responsibility per se, but it’s just my personality. I’m just trying to have fun out there and just trying to relax. To me football’s a game. You get out there and enjoy yourself and have fun.”
—- Patrick Stevens