Samoan Finds Fit in Laramie

Sept. 4, 2001

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

At first glance, Rano Sasa looks like a kidwho gets picked on a lot, or one of those kids who isselected last for every team in gym class.

Sasa is listed at 6-foot-2, but is probably closer to6-0. He weighs 307 pounds, but that can fluctuate asoften as the weather in Wyoming.

But don't judge Sasa by his cover. He is one of thebetter young offensive linemen for the University ofWyoming football team.

"He gets the job done, so it doesn't really matterwhat he looks like," UW junior offensive tackle AdamGoldberg said. "He's just a little ball of fun."

Sasa got the job done last season as a true freshmanoffensive guard. He played in all 11 games and startedfive. He played high school football in Copperas Cove,Texas, where he played both on the offensive anddefensive lines.

This season, Sasa is the starting left guard for theCowboys.

"In our offensive line, the focus is having a lowcenter of gravity and having leverage over the otherguy," Sasa said. "The lower you are, usually you'regoing to win the battle, so that helps me out a lot."

Sasa was born in Pago Pago, American Somoa, spent sometime in Hawaii and lived in Texas since he was in thefifth grade. Sasa admitted he experienced a bit ofculture shock coming to Laramie.

And, with his unique name and a constant battle withhis weight, Sasa takes his share of ribbing from histeammates.

"Human bowling ball" and "roly-poly" are just two ofthe terms Sasa's teammates used to describe him.

Sasa lost about 20 pounds during spring ball and overthe summer, which has helped his game considerably.

Still, Sasa offers a few other nicknames he's beenlabeled by his teammates: "Chips," "hot sauce" and/or"sauce" because of his last name is pronounced(SAUCE-uh) and "Rhino" because his name is pronounced(RON-oh), similar to the African animal.

"It's all for fun," said Sasa of the teasing he takesfrom his teammates.

But if his teammates didn't make fun of Sasa, thatwould mean they didn't care about him, or one another.

"We all give each other a hard time about ourbackgrounds," UW junior center Mike Irvin said. "RobKellerman is a redneck from Kansas, Goldberg isJewish, you have Rano and there's me and (Henry)Randle who are black.

"We get in there and have a good time messing witheach other and teasing one another. But I would sayRano takes the brunt of the abuse because he's sofat," Irvin added jokingly.

But when it's game day, Sasa is all business.

"He fires off the ball and attacks people," Irvinsaid. "He's not very passive. Because he's so short,he can get up under people and just push."