Catch Makes National News

The kid. The catch. The story.

Kota Ainuu, a 6’ 3” wide receiver for the Dimond Lynx football team, made a catch earlier this month that sent Alaska social media, along with national sports news go wild. Ranking second on ESPN Top 10 and headlining The play titled the “Icy Cold Catch” catapulted one of our own seniors into the spotlight. On opening night of East High School’s stadium the Lynx came in to diffuse their fire.

Unfortunately, in the 40-20 loss, not much of the game went Dimond’s way except for one certain connection between quarterback and receiver.

“It was a broken play,” said Dimond quarterback Kyle Henrickson. “The blitz came, and I made a move for the sideline.”

In the meantime, Ainuu made a move towards that same sideline and while making eye contact with Henrickson, pointed towards the sky as if to say “lob it up”.
“That’s just what I did,” said Henrickson. “I just had enough trust that he would make the play.”

The pass went right down the sideline and stuck in Ainuu’s one outstretched hand.

“I just held on. No matter what happened I wasn’t going let go,” said Ainuu.

Not only did he make the grab, but he stuck the landing too, getting not one, but two feet inbounds, an aspect of the game that only the pros have to worry about. There was a slight delay as everyone held their breath waiting for the call, but as the signal for touchdown was given, the Dimond sideline and crowd erupted into a frenzy.

“It was an exhilarating play,” said senior Kylan Osborne, an avid Dimond football fan. “It was one of the coolest plays I’ve ever seen on the field.”

Hours later, the catch went viral. It started small, with Dimond fans retweeting a post from Channel 2 News.

Next it was other schools, then it was Bleacher Report, ESPN and every other sports media you could think of.

That night it was on ESPN Top 10, the part of SportsCenter that more fans look forward to than anything else.

“It was awesome to see it take off like that. It was really cool to get some recognition for a play like that, especially having it come from Alaska,” said Ainuu.

But there is another side to this story, one that is not as uplifting as climbing to the top of the social media universe.

Just a few days before the game, Ainuu’s father passed away of a heart attack. There were a lot of tears, pain and sorrow from the family as well as those close to them.

“It’s such a sad thing to have happen and something that you never want to see happen to someone as close as we are,” said Dimond Football teammate Dylan Tufaga, a senior.

But Ainuu suited up that Saturday, determined to play no matter what the circumstances.

“I dedicated that game to my dad,” said the Dimond receiver. “Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”