For the first time in program history, four KALC seniors were actively recruited to play collegiate football. Mike Brice (#54), Taj White-King (#5), Daniel Oluwasuyi (#3), and Dave Filias (#10) helped establish the panther football program in 2017 and because of their success the group is now heading off to college next fall to compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
Mike and Taj were recruited by several NESCAC schools, but ultimately decided on Trinity because of how they felt during their recruitment conversations with the coaching staff. Mike is a four year captain and someone head coach James Rabbitt describes as a natural leader on and off the field, and especially throughout the KIPP community. Mike explains, “because of KIPP I’m more mentally prepared, I’m mentally stronger- I’m able to take feedback, setbacks, and push forward.” While KIPP has been a huge influence over the past four years, Mike also credits his support system to his teammates and fellow captains for pushing him on the field and in the classroom.
One of those teammates is Taj, who will be joining him at Trinity this fall. Coach Rabbitt describes Taj as “charismatic” and knows he will be successful at Trinity because he is extremely coachable. Taj, who claims he used to not be coachable, credits his development over the past four years to coach Rabbitt and his teammates. He explains, “Rabbitt and my teammates saw leadership qualities in me that I didn’t see in myself and they pushed me as much as they could – they stuck with me.”
Similar to Taj and Mike, Dave and Daniel were also recruited by a number of NESCAC schools, but the open environment and coaching staff drew them both to Middlebury. Dave, who coach Rabbitt describes as “the best player to coach on and off the field,” says he became more driven to play football at the collegiate level because of the support from coach O’Connor and fellow captain Mike Brice. Dave goes on to say that “my coaches helped build up my mental toughness, but KIPP taught me a lot about managing my work and managing my free time,” which will help prepare him to be a student athlete at Middlebury.
Daniel will also be stepping foot on Middlebury’s campus this fall, and is a player that developed the most under coach Rabbitt’s leadership. Coach Rabbitt describes Daniel as someone who “doesn’t have a lot to say, but when he does people always listen- his teammates respect him immensely.” A quiet leader, Daniel says his biggest motivator has been his mom, “I just wanted to go to a good college so I could make her proud.”
Coach James Rabbitt reflects on the leadership of his departing seniors and the future of the program: “one thing I have to say is that all four of them have been incredible on and off the field-especially in the classroom. In football, one of the major things a coach has to do is make sure grades are up, and this group we’ve never had an issue with that. Even though we’re losing a lot of talent this year, I’m hopeful for the program. I’m hopeful that the imprint this group left on the team will be pervasive throughout the program, and that our younger players will follow in their footsteps and see what is possible for them.”
Mike, Taj, Dave, and Daniel left some words of advice to their younger teammates who are hoping to play at the collegiate level. The key points: Trust your teammates, make sacrifices, work hard on the field and in the classroom, and don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do.
We cannot wait to see what Mike, Dave, Daniel, and Taj accomplish at Middlebury and Trinity. Their excitement to start their next athletic and academic chapter is palpable – they are eager to step foot on campus, meet their new teammates, and make an impact. We’ll all have to tune in for the Middlebury versus Trinity showdown next season!
If you’re a Trinity, Middlebury, or NESCAC alum and are interested in connecting with our players or supporting our athletic program please email Rebecca Hazlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Trinity College
Trinity is a private liberal arts college located in Hartford, CT. Trinity enrolls 2,235 students and offers 41 majors and 28 interdisciplinary minors. The college is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
About Middlebury College
Middlebury is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, VT. Middlebury College currently enrolls 2,526 undergraduates from all 50 states and 74 countries and offers 44 majors. The college is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
About KIPP Massachusetts
KIPP Massachusetts is part of a non-profit network of college preparatory, public charter schools educating elementary, middle, and high school students. KIPP MA operates five public charter schools across Boston and Lynn, serving more than 2,000 students in grades K-12. KIPP MA has a 15-year track record of preparing students in educationally under-served communities for success in college and life.
KIPP is a non-profit network of college-preparatory public charter schools educating elementary, middle, and high school students. KIPP schools are part of the free public school system and enrollment is open to all students. There are 242 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia educating over 100,000 students on their path to and through college, careers, and life. KIPP believes that great teachers and school leaders, a supportive learning environment, and an emphasis on both academics and character are the foundation for student success. KIPP students complete college at a rate that is above the national average for all students and four times higher than that of students from similar economic backgrounds.