Gifted N Fitted

Training with Taz Stevenson

Taylor Ann Ono

     Most high school athletes have hope to continue their sports career after graduating, and for some like MHS alumnus Taz Stevenson, those hopes come true. Stevenson graduated in 2010, playing wide receiver, running back and safety for the football team. He participated in the 2010 Polynesian Bowl, and was listed as the No. 47 safety recruit in the nation. He also earned first-team all-state honors as an all-purpose player from The Honolulu Star-Bulletin and The Honolulu Advertiser.

     “It got me to where I needed to go which was get through college. It set up opportunities for me moving forward, so high school athletics was a big thing for me, also academically, and me just growing and maturing as an individual,” said Stevenson.

     As of June this year, Stevenson has started his own training program known as Gifted n Fitted, which focuses on physically and mentally training the body in order to help people become strong leaders and athletes. He is a personal coach and trains non-athletes as well. Along with his business, Stevenson is training the MHS JV and Varsity Boys Baseball team. His goal is to expose the community to his strategies of working out and overcoming challenges. “I want to change the culture of this program. But in order to do that, I have to set a foundation and raising our standards to a high level of discipline, of paying attention to detail, hard work, pushing these kids past their limit. I want everybody to have the opportunity to experience being pushed past their potential. I’m big on injury prevention, so I always want guys to get the right type of training so they can last long. I’m all about longevity, being able to play as hard as you can, for a long period of time,” said Stevenson.

     This different way of training with Stevenson has been a new experience for the baseball team. “He’s all about having focus, being there for everyone and he has this high energy. He wants us to win and he pushes us to do our best every practice,” said second base Sophomore John Richard “JR” Suehisa. “I feel blessed and lucky because not too many people get (this) experience.” Assistant Coach and alumnus Kacey Miyasato added, “When Taz started coaching, they started to realize, ‘We’re going to have to put in this work because everyone has to put in this work.’ The first two practices they were all, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Now, they’re coming with the attitude of, ‘This is what we really need,’ and they’re willing to do anything we ask of them now.” 

     After high school, Stevenson played football at the University of Washington, then transferred to the University of Hawaii. Playing at multiple colleges has given Stevenson insight on things that other athletes don’t get to see. “There’s a lot of good athletes that come out of your sport in 10 years, and for him to make the all-decade team was pretty crazy. He didn’t even need to physically work with the kids, he could just talk to them about his journey and what it took, the sacrifice, being accountable for himself and all that stuff, that would help them hundreds and hundreds of times,” Miyasato said.

     This insight that Stevenson passed down to the baseball team has changed them entirely. “I see a lot, each day they’re progressing, that’s the biggest thing. When I first came, it was a little slow, they were trying to get adjusted to me and my philosophy. But each time I come out here, I can feel the energy getting better and better. I feel these kids have a bright future ahead of them. I couldn’t be more proud that they’re making the decision to get better,” said Stevenson. Suehisa added, “I will never give up, like the work is hard at our practices but he encourages us to push, so when we’re down in the last inning and we go extra innings, we got to push through our fatigue and finish.”

     Along with exercising techniques, everyone has learned something personal about themselves. “He taught us words like ‘accountability,’ and it’s important for us to be there for our brothers, like our teammates, so when one is down, we got to push them,” said Suehisa. “I’ll remember his energy. The baseball team, they’re mostly shy, and then just him coming, it opens us up more.” Miyasato added, “This has helped me get retouched with being a Trojan and that’s something that you take for granted when you’re in high school. I’m proud to be a Trojan and you can’t just be proud by being proud, there’s got to be a reason. Putting in the work, sacrificing something greater than yourself is something to be proud of.”

     Stevenson’s Trojan pride and wanting to give back to the community was a driving force to return to MHS. “I was eager to train, eager to work with a group of kids and this is one of the first groups besides my individual class that I have. This is one of the first teams that had an interest in me training, so I was all over it,” said Stevenson. “It almost feels like I never left. I have this sense of pride and passion for our school, so it feels good to come back and be able to share my experiences moving on through college and training. Being able to share that with our young student athletes here, that’s a big thing. I’m blessed for the opportunity to be able to do so.”