You can hear it outside the stadium. Young men, long-haired giants, slapping their padded chests and thighs in unison. A few, the young leaders, start with guttural screams that echo past the bright lights and into the Friday night air. They turn and step together, dozens of them, growling and chanting, gearing themselves for battle. This is a haka, an ancestral war cry from the Pacific Islands, not something you might expect in a place like Euless, a predominantly white suburb next to DFW Airport. But the haka has become a standard pregame ritual here at Trinity High School football games.
Many of the Trinity players have roots in Tonga, a South Pacific archipelago between Fiji and Samoa. In fact, there’s a community of thousands of Tongans in Euless. It started in the early ’70s, when a few Tongan families moved here to work at the airport. Word spread that the cost of living was low and that there were good jobs at the airport. So more and more families left the islands and moved here, where a lot of the traditional Tongan virtues—dedication to family and hard work—went over well with Texans. A lot of Tongans are also big and physical, and dedicated to rituals and tribalism, and that went well with another Texas custom: football.
A few years ago, Sports Illustrated ranked Trinity the top team in the nation. Gatorade shot a commercial here. And the program has become a perennial favorite, winning three state championships in the last 10 years.
Now Euless embraces its Tongan community. Hence the haka, which the team does before both home and away games. If you’re rooting for Trinity, it’s exhilarating and inspiring. If you’re an opponent, staring from across the field, it’s terrifying. — Michael J. Mooney
- Median Age: 34.4
- Population Growth (2000-2013): 15.70%
- Population Density: 3,283 people per square mile
- Students Passing STARR K-11: 87%
- Average SAT Score: 1484
- Students Taking SAT/ACT: 67.30%
- Instruction Spending Per Student: $3,888
- Violent Crime Rate: 1.8 per 1,000 residents
- Non-Violent Crime Rate: 30.16 per 1,000 residents
- Average Price of Homes Sold (2013): $176,435
- Sales Price Change (2011-2013): 8.40%
- Owner-Occupied Homes: 45.30%
- Walkability (New York City is an 88): 37