McKenzie Milton Reflects on Faith, Family, Football

Faith, family, and football have always been an integral part of McKenzie Milton’s life. As a student at Hanalani Schools from K3 through eighth grade, McKenzie, along with his three older brothers who also attended Hanalani, focused on his studies while participating in school and community sports, including football with the Waipio Panthers. Today, the University of Central Florida sophomore and star quarterback has achieved impressive accomplishments, including: the UCF Knights’ undefeated 13-0 season in 2017, its 2018 Peach Bowl championship, and his finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting for 2017.
McKenzie is grateful for many positive influences in his life, including his family, his faith in God, and his teachers at Hanalani Schools.


Reflecting on his years at Hanalani, McKenzie remembers the kind and gentle guidance of teachers like Mr. Arnel Daguio and Ms. Wendy Ah Quin, the weekly chapel service, and spiritual lessons that were integrated into his daily studies.

“The teachers at Hanalani really cared and wanted the best for us,” says McKenzie. “They were fun to be around, and I looked forward to going to school. I believe that Hanalani taught me how to be a Christian and treat people with compassion.”

As much as he enjoyed school and playing basketball and golf at Hanalani, the love of football and the opportunity to play on Mililani High School’s team led McKenzie to transfer there.

“Hanalani gave me a strong foundation,” says McKenzie. “There were a lot more distractions at public school, but Hanalani instilled high standards in me, and I was involved with the right crowd.”

For McKenzie’s mother, Teresa, who helped start Hanalani School’s first parent teacher fellowship, transferring her son was a difficult choice. One of her sons had already graduated from Hanalani and another was looking to graduate soon. Most importantly, Teresa saw how much Hanalani had helped McKenzie.

“The staff at Hanalani were so good about being on the same page with us and the Bible, when it came to discipline,” says Teresa. “The school is about changing souls and providing a good education at the same time.”


McKenzie says that he felt like Hanalani Schools was still with him even after he had transferred. Hard work, honesty, moral standards and balancing school with football – all of these values remained a part of his life thanks to Hanalani Schools. He also maintained close friendships with former classmates and cheered for them and his brother at Hanalani sports events.

McKenzie considers himself blessed to be where he is today. He recalls the time when he was a high school senior and badly injured his shoulder. Doctors told him he may not be able to play football again. “All these doubts crept into my mind, and I felt lost with the person I was,” recalls McKenzie. “I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to attend college. Then my church prayed for me for healing, and I felt God’s presence. Over time, my shoulder healed 100 percent. God also helped me get into a Division 1 college and receive a four-year athletic scholarship,” says McKenzie, who was baptized and rededicated his life to the Lord the summer after freshman year.


McKenzie plans to major in sports and exercise science. He says his dream is to play professional football in the NFL, if it is God’s plan. He also hopes to someday coach college or high school football and help make an impact in young people’s lives like his coaches have done for him.

“At Hanalani Schools, I learned to love people no matter what their background. Lead by action and the way you carry yourself. Walk the walk – that’s the biggest thing Hanalani Schools instilled in me.”