Change is a part of life, says high school safety


Adapting to change is not always easy, but for Kawai Lucio it was necessary.

Portrait, with blue tie.

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Kawai Lucio, now a junior, transferred from Miyamura High School after his freshman year to Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Ariz., and has since managed to become a starting safety for the Class 6A football team. He also maintains above a 4.0 GPA in the classroom.

Lucio lived his entire life in Gallup and started his high school football career at Miyamura High School. But at the end of his freshman year, he and his family moved to Gilbert, Arizona.

His father had a job transfer which meant changes awaited Lucio.

“It was a big change for me, obviously coming from a smaller town to a bigger one was a big change,” he said. “I had to adjust to the environment.”

So he did. Lucio, 16, adjusted and now is starting safety on the Gilbert High Class 6A football team. He carries a GPA well above 4.0 in the classroom.

As a sophomore at Gilbert, Lucio played football on the junior varsity but worked his way up to varsity and into a starting spot this season as a junior.

In the team’s most recent game, Lucio had four solo tackles, 13 total tackles, and one fumble recovery. The team is 3-3 overall and 0-1 in their section.

Lucio is part Navajo and Zuni and Native Hawaiian with roots in Lupton, Arizona.

Lucio said getting a spot wasn’t easy.

“It was mostly the skill level here, it was different,” he said. “We have a lot of Division I prospects here, we have a quarterback that’s a Purdue commit and it’s a privilege to play with him as well.”

Lucio said he made new friends, got used to his big school, met new teammates, and adjusted to the social life, academics and the football program.

His father, Mac Lucio, said he and his son had some heart-to-heart moments where they talked about the adjustments.

“He kind of got a little discouraged and frustrated at times, but it’s a part of the transition, it’s a part of life,” Mac said. “So he took it for what it’s worth and made those adjustments.”

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Categories: Football

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.