Student-Athlete Spotlight: Dineken Paogofie-Buyten


Graphic by Allison Plume

Taylor McDaniel | Reporter

This week’s Student athlete is Dineken Paogofie-Buyten, known as Nika, a women’s Rugby player from Hawaii.


Name: Dineken Paogofie-Buyten

Photo courtesy of Dineken Paogofie-Buyten.

Nicknames: Nika

Age: 20

Year: Junior

From: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Major(s): Criminal Justice and Psychology

Sport: Women’s Rugby


Q: When did you start playing your sport?

A: “I played rugby as little kid but it was either touch or flag rugby nothing more serious and then I had stopped playing before the age of 13.”

Q: How did you get started in your sport?

A: “My parents, brother and I went down to a rugby tournament in town one day just to watch (not play) and then one of the coaches asked my brother if he wanted to play. My dad raced to the store to go buy my brother a pair of cleats, and since then my brother was always involved in the sport. The following year, I decided that I wanted to play as well, even though women’s rugby was not as popular as men’s in Hawaii, and kept with it until I decided to stop at 13.”

Q: What is your biggest strength in your sport?

A: “My biggest strength in my sport is my attacking, passing and support towards my team. I think I have the ability to make the defense question what I will actually do with the ball in hand and supporting my team because we have moments that our heads are down or we may be discombobulated and all it takes is a bit of love from another teammate to turn it around.”

Q: What was your most embarrassing moment in your sport?

A: “My most embarrassing moment in this sport was a time that we were playing in Las Vegas, 7’s and we were playing an older women’s team. We were kicking off to them, I took off running to chase down the ball or to tackle the opposing player and a rather larger woman caught the ball and started running it straight towards me, I attempted to make the tackle while she trucked me and I flew off of her, however, the most embarrassing part of it wasn’t her trucking me but the moments after that and how casual she just kept running at a slow jog.”

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment in your sport?

A: “My biggest accomplishment would be being a part of the ‘Triple Crown’ teams. Last year my team took three national championships, one in 15’s and two in 7’s, and I was more than proud to be able to be healthy and chosen to be a part of each of those teams.”

Q: What do you like most about your sport?

A: “I enjoy the sport and the structure it has to offer. I look at rugby as if it is a big game of chess, just a lot more physical and much more running. When playing rugby, it is important that you are fast, strong and fit but it is also a game of who is smarter and who makes the best decisions. You have to be able to outsmart your opponent and think of not only the move you’re doing in that moment but also the next.”

Q: Why did you choose to play for Lindenwood?

A: “My older brother came here to play rugby for the men’s team and spoke very highly of it and how much fun he had while playing, and eventually I got in touch with the head coach of the women’s team, Billy Nicholas. After the visit I took, I knew that everything was meant to be. I enjoyed everything the school had to offer.”

Q: Do you have any game day rituals?

A: “On game days I like to be very calm and collected leading up to the game. I will listen to music and get into a mindset preparing myself for the match as well as imagine what I would like to see myself doing in the game.”

Q: Who is your favorite athlete?

A: “My favorite athlete is Max Holloway (a UFC fighter), I love his work ethic and his approach to sports as a whole. He is very calm and collected, but hits hard when he needs to. He also takes a lot of pride in his home which I greatly appreciate because I as well have lots of love for Hawaii.”

Q: Who do you look up to in your sport?

A: “In my sport I look up to Ruby Tui or Portia Woodman. Basically anyone on the New Zealand team.”

Q: What is your favorite sports team?

A: “My favorite team would be the New Zealand Black Ferns. The reason being is because all of those women truly show humility, love and what a family in a sport is. It shows in the way they play with each other and the way they work, they back each other up and keep each other motivated. Truly is a beautiful thing watching the way they play and the way they represent their home.”

Q: What keeps you motivated?

A: “What keeps me motivated is my family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches and myself. Not only am I playing for myself but I play for those who stand behind me with endless support.”

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

A: “Outside of rugby I like to do things that will keep me busy whether it is going for a walk down at main, going into another town, or even just playing with the rugby ball on a sunny day. In my free time I like to hang out with my friends and completely disconnect from rugby for a bit and just enjoy the free time.”

Q: What are three things you could not live without?

A: I cannot live without music, a guitar and my family.”

If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?

A: “Anne Frank, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson.”

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: “You must be soft in the time of kindness and fierce in the time of war.”

Q: Do you have any advice for young athletes?

A: “A goal without a plan is just a dream, so make sure you make the plan and execute everything in between. You will be unstoppable. Also, make sure you are having fun doing whatever it is you are doing. If there is no fun in it, then there is no point.”

Q: What are your plans for after college?

A: “As of now, I hope to have a job or some type of income after school and continue to live the life I was given. I want to experience things outside of college such as traveling or maybe even going back home, but whatever it is, I will be doing what I want to make sure I am enjoying it.”