When Kingsley Ehiemua took to the field on Sept. 1, 2017, as the starting quarterback for Trinity Valley School, he became the first African-American to do so.
The high school senior is a towering boy of 6 feet, 4 inches, with broad shoulders and an eye for fashionable footwear. He is a true Southern 17-year-old who says “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am” when asked a question.
“When people say, ‘the first African-American quarterback,’ I take it as a blessing. It really makes me play no different,” Ehiemua says. “I try to stay grounded, and I look at myself just like everybody else. Everybody’s equal. Trinity Valley is a very diverse environment. You name it, we got it.”
Unaware of his distinction at Trinity Valley until someone told him, Ehiemua began playing quarterback when he was only 4 years old, and he’s been taking snaps ever since.
After spending his freshman year at two different schools, Ehiemua transferred to Trinity Valley in the spring of 2017 and won the starting quarterback role. Though they lost their first game to Southwest Christian, they ended the season hoisting the state title trophy.
Head football coach Aaron Mattox said his goal for each student, including Ehiemua, is for them to feel included.
“I’d hate for someone to come to Trinity Valley and not feel the family atmosphere we provide,” he said.
Ehiemua hopes to lead his team to back-to-back state championships and will work hard to do so.
“Hard work has no color to it,” Ehiemua said. “If you work hard and you do the right thing, anything is possible.”
His grandfather, who owns his own pharmacy and teaches free classes for underprivileged kids, taught Ehiemua all about hard work. And Ehiemua says he never takes a day off. Rather than dreams of NFL drafts and brand endorsements, Ehiemua wants to become a physician assistant. He wants to help people just like he does on the field and just like his grandfather does in the classroom.
Even though Ehiemua is breaking boundaries through football, he is just like any other kid and finds ways outside football to de-stress and express himself.
“I write for fun,” Ehiemua said. “Anything that comes to mind, really. I write about my day. It’s a way to get the stress off of you.”
Ehiemua makes sure to set goals for himself and always pushes himself to do one more, just like Coach Mattox taught him. When he’s working out, do one more set. When he’s reading, read one more chapter.
Some might look at Ehiemua and see the first African-American quarterback at Trinity Valley, but to his team members, his coaches and his family, he’s Kingsley, their brother, leader and teammate.
By Sarah January