FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 24, 2013
Photo caption: Snow College Running Backs Coach Beni Tonga
EPHRAIM, Utah—Snow College announced today that running backs coach Beni Tonga will be leaving the school to accept a position as assistant football coach at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. Among other duties, Tonga will be the Player Development Specialist working with the recruiting office and leading the Cowboy effort in recruiting players of Polynesian descent.
“Beni has done a great job working with our student athletes,” said Snow athletic director Rob Nielson. “He is a great role model and will continue to assist students in his new position.” Nielson expressed pride in the number and variety of Snow College student athletes and coaches who have had the opportunity to move on to NCAA Division I programs this year and added, “We wish Beni the best of luck at Oklahoma State.”
Tonga attended Snow from 2004 through 2006 where he was a starting running back for the Badgers. He went on to play for head coach Dennis Erickson at Arizona State University in Tempe in 2007 and 2008. Tonga returned to Snow as assistant football coach in 2010 and worked under head coaches Steve Coburn and Tyler Hughes. Hughes is also leaving Snow College after this school year to pursue a graduate degree at the Ohio State University.
Incoming Snow head football coach Britt Maughan is happy for Tonga’s opportunity to coach in the Big 12. “Beni has been a valuable member of the Snow College family for a long time,” Maughan said. “He has done a wonderful job with our running backs, recruiting talent from Salt Lake and from the Polynesian community.” Maughan went on to wish Tonga success at Oklahoma State and said, “We will not be able to replace a guy like Beni.”
Tonga will be joined at Oklahoma State by Snow College’s NJCAA All-America defensive end Ofa Hautau who helped lead the Badgers to an 11-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking in the NJCAA final poll in 2012. Snow’s successful football season has led other players to be signed by Division I schools such as Oregon State, University of Iowa, East Carolina University, North Texas State and BYU.
“It is tough to leave Snow College because it has been a great experience for me,” Tonga said. “Snow is a special place because the people work with you and there is such a small town feel. I think Stillwater (Oklahoma) has some of that same feeling, only bigger. I will be joining a great staff under head coach Mike Gundy.”
Tonga, 30, was born in Viola, Tonga, and moved from Tonga to Salt Lake City at the age of 14 where he prepped at Hillcrest High School. He has a three-year old daughter, Grace Losevati, who Tonga says “will miss being in Ephraim.” Tonga and his family will be moving to Oklahoma this month.
-- Doug Johnson, Snow College Sports Information Dept., Ephraim, UT (435) 283-7320