The wait has been long enough for Keli‘i Montibon, who hasn’t seen action on Oregon State’s football field since 2018.
The 2016 Kamehameha graduate is now a redshirt senior for the Beavers, who belong to the Pac-12 conference and postponed all sports competitions through the end of the year.
After Kamehameha, the 6-foot-2, 276-pound guard played one season at Riverside City College before landing at Oregon State.
His journey has been a frustrating one. He didn’t play in a game in 2017. He appeared in three games in 2018 and missed all of 2019 when he tore his right ACL.
He’s fully recovered and was running with the first team during spring ball when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“I’m doing well,” he said. “School starts Sept 20, and I’ve been up here the past 10 weeks, working out with the team.
“We were practicing with small groups of 20 and now it’s a little better with 40 per group now. I was bummed (with the postponement). Hopefully, we can play again.”
It’s been reported that conference universities will have rapid-results testing available at the end of the month. That could reduce the stress of contact tracing. But no official word has been released, which means the status quo of standing still lives on.
“I think we’ll begin in January, play a five or six game schedule, have a Pac-12 championship,” Montibon said, “and I’ll come back to play in the fall next year.”
The NCAA allowed players to maintain their class standings, so Montibon could wind up playing a season and a half.
Montibon puts his faith and fate in God’s hands.
“My journey has been a blessing,” he said. “I dreamt of this as a kid. I had to go to a junior college to get here. But I’m thankful God gave me this in my life. It’s been a blessing in disguise.”
Last season, the Beavers, under second-year coach Jonathan Smith, finished 5-7, losing their rivalry game against Oregon 24-10.
Montibon could only watch and look at silver linings. The right guard with the positive attitude easily found some.
“It changed how I approach things and my mindset,” he said. “My perspective has always been positive, more God-driven. It’s the will of God.
“Religion has played a big part in my life. It’s been my testimony, hurting my leg and going to rehab and becoming a better person. I have a real chance to start.
“I remember I was rolling with the ones and it was a non-contact drill and I heard my knee pop. I knew something was wrong, and sure enough I tore my ACL.”
He’s fully recovered after enduring rehab work for a whole season.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’m ready to play in a long time. It’s a 100%.”
He’s got a nice side business cutting hair out of his apartment, which he shares with his fiancee, Kaleo Nicolas, a Kamehameha graduate, who graduated from Washington State. They plan on getting married in 2021.
Montibon is majoring in business administration and hopes to work at a big company like Nike, which is located 90 minutes away in Beaverton.
“In 2018, one of the Poly boys was cutting hard and leaving, so I figured I’d watch and learn,” he said. “I watched videos and run a business out of my apartment.
“Corvallis is beautiful in the summer. You can float on the river. In the winter, it’s cold and rains like Hilo. But you have to make the best of what you’ve got.”
That’s sort of been Montibon’s blueprint all his life.