Senior Spotlight: James Tupou

James+Tupou+is+a+fullback+who+received+his+bachelors+in+kinesiology+and+is+working+on+his+master%E2%80%99s+in+leadership+studies.

Alberto Silva Fernandez

James Tupou is a fullback who received his bachelors in kinesiology and is working on his master’s in leadership studies.

Katrina Villarreal, Staff Reporter

Football player paves their success with the Miners

UTEP fullback James Tupou has received his undergraduate degree in kinesiology and is on his way to completing his graduate degree in leadership studies. Once he graduates, Tupou is looking to become a strength coach or a personal trainer. 

Tupou is originally from Allen, Texas and has been playing football since he was eight years old; he has loved playing ever since. Tupou explains that both his family and teammates play a big part in his love for the game of  football.

“My dad put it upon (my brother and I), so we got hooked on it from him,” Tupou said.  

Being able to cheer on his teammates is something that Tupou loves about playing football. Tupou explains that seeing everyone happy, whether it is him or one of his teammates making a play, is what is genuinely enjoyable. 

“Football is supposed to be fun,” Tupou said. “We got to make sure it should be competitive, but at the end of day it’s still a game.” 

During his career at Allen High School, Tupou originally played on the defense. Tupou was on the school’s  varsity squad where he earned All-District 6-6A First Team Defense and received Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Class 6A All-State Honorable Mention.

During the 2019 season, his sophomore year, Tupou began to see action at the fullback position.

Tupou recently recorded his first touchdown as a Miner in the game against Rice University, Thursday, Nov. 3, making this his favorite catch as a UTEP Miner.  

“Big, historic mark,” Tupou said. “It took a long time, but you know (I had) patience and it was finally rewarded, so I appreciate that.” 

Tupou’s inspiration to take the field is his father and sibling, especially his brother who, he explains, has fought through adversity all along his interesting journey. 

Tupou said that he and his brother have had conversations about not playing football anymore. They both decided to push through.

“(Tupou’s brother) still bounced back and battled, and he’s actually played one of his, probably his best, years of college football this year,” Tupou said. “I’ve never been so proud of him as a younger brother.” 

To motivate himself on the off days, Tupou takes a note from UTEP football Head Coach Dana Dimel. Tupou explains that sometimes you have to fake the hype and once you are into it, positive energy and motivation makes its way through the entire team.

“You just start to feel like ‘I’m into this now, my teammates are into it,’” Tupou said. “Positive energy starts getting spread around and you just start to get hooked on it too, it just starts bouncing off.” 

Being a part of the UTEP football team has meant everything to Tupou. He explains that he and the team have been through a lot of adversity during his time at UTEP.

From going 0-12, to 1-11, to 3-5, to finally finding success last season when the program finished 7-6 and played in a bowl game for the first time since 2014. 

When he graduates, Tupou hopes to leave the legacy of being known as a hard worker by his teammates. 

“Going through the hardship of all those years, I feel has built a lot of character,” Tupou said. “All the hard times has really made me the person I am today.” 

One thing Tupou will miss about UTEP when he graduates with his graduate degree is going to be his teammates. Tupou explains that he has been able to build a close relationship with them. 

“I probably went through a lot of, I guess people that either transferred or left, or just hung their cleats up,” Tupou said. “There are also people that I’ve never met in my entire life from different parts of the country and (I) end up being best friends with them.”  

High school statistics for James Tupou courtesy of UTEP Athletics, and utepminers.com

Katrina Villarreal is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]