A viewing of the 2006 film, "Facing the Giants," struck a chord with Miki Fifita.
The IMG Academy senior offensive lineman from Hawaii was in the seventh grade then, several years from relocating to the private sports academy in Bradenton and reaching his potential of gaining a Division I football offer from Oregon State, when he became enamored with the film.
The flick marries football and faith, telling the story of a Christian high school football program that had struggled for years.
The head coach turns to his faith and gets team members to buy in, and they ultimately succeed in winning a state title.
Fifita, though, wasn't new to Christianity when he watched the movie for the first time.
"It was my second year of football, and that really sparked it," said Fifita, who is a Methodist. "I just take if you believe really hard in something, it will happen. No matter how bumpy the road, no matter how much obstacles there are, you'll get through it through God. Because He gives us all the strength."
His father, Panepasa Fifita, is a pastor in Hawaii. Fifita, who is Tongan, grew up in an environment with his father and mother, Laurie Fifita, where religion was
It's a part of the culture Miki Fifita is from.
"He has always put God first," said Laurie Fifita via phone from Hawaii. "With my husband and him, it's God first, then school. And then so on and so on."
Prior to Fifita's journey to IMG for his senior football season this past summer, the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder spent his time in Hawaii. His regular Sunday routine included going to three different church services because his dad is a pastor of two churches, which showcases just how important religion and God are in the Fifita household.
That dedication didn't stay in the islands when Fifita found his way to the Sunshine State. He's carried his faith into the Ascenders' football program.
In the Aug. 23 Kickoff Classic televised on Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports, IMG defeated visiting Tallahassee Godby 32-13. Following the game, Fifita led the team in prayer.
For team captain and linebacker Nick Thomas, a senior heading to the University of Wisconsin next season, Fifita's faith and the overall mindset of the team brings unity through religion.
And Thomas said Fifita is eccentric with his faith every Sunday on campus.
"Strictly gospel music on Sundays," Thomas said. "Yelling gospel music. ... We have speaker systems, he'll put it in his room and he will play it so loud the entire floor can hear it. And he will yell and scream the gospel music, and I just feel like it's just important for him to share the message through gospel music that Sundays are the Lord's Day and for you to rest. You're not supposed to do anything else. ... I just feel that's good, just keep us all unified and just keep us in check. I think it's different, it's different for Miki to do that while everyone else -- everyone on the team is religious in their own way -- but Miki definitely shows it the most."
But that's what makes Fifita the likeable teammate from a faraway state, and it's his belief system that instills what is important at the end of the day.
Last year, while still playing in his native Hawaii, Fifita missed a half of game action per team rules for missing practice, his mother Laurie said.
The reason? He missed practice due to a church obligation.
"It was actually two of the boys that had to sit out," Laurie Fifita said. "But Miki chose God over football. ... It's more important for him than being at practice. ... And it was a really big game.
It was one of our biggest games."
Like his previous school, Miki Fifita has adopted a similar routine prior to games at IMG Academy.
The team shares in the Lord's Prayer, and Fifita closes his eyes to get closer with his personal connection with God.
"I think a lot of us are religious on the team," Miki Fifita said. "I just think we all come in and we all relate to each other even more through God. And we just have that faith that we can't be stopped."