After visiting Nigeria, Montclair track and field star Kimberley is preparing to head to Yale


Isiah Udofia, a recent graduate of Montclair Kimberley Academy, is preparing to head to Yale University after visiting his father Nkere’s homeland.

Udofia, an all-state athlete, spent much of July in Nigeria helping his father’s friend, who runs a medical outreach program in his father’s village, Uruk Uso, about 280 miles south from the Nigerian capital of Abuja. The outreach program provides free health care to people who cannot afford it.

“The biggest thing I took away from this trip is how different life is for people not too different from me here, and how lucky I am that my father was able to escape for war and growing up with so many other opportunities in America,” Udofia said, referring to her father’s arrival in the United States in 1968 during the Nigerian Civil War.

“Being able to experience what he went through as a child gives a new appreciation for all the blessings I have in my life.”

Udofia gets a good deal of her track skills from her father, who was an all-state long jumper in Nebraska and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He was named to the all-state second team in the long jump and was one of seven boys in NJSIAA State Athletics Group history to win four events in a single meet. Udofia won the long jump (23ft 4.25in), triple jump (45ft 6.25), 100m (10.77) and 200m (21.84) in the non-public meet B on June 10 and 11 in Middletown.

The four grades were personal bests and school bests.

While at MKA, he also set the school mark in the 400 meters (50.28) and was part of the 400 and 800 meter relay teams that set school records.

“My performance in my final year was the culmination of a lot of hard work and sacrifices that I made, especially during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, and that’s what made the achievements even greater. special,” he said.

The Non Public B encounter was the highlight of his senior season and his career for MKA. It was also his favorite competition during his junior year, when he won the 100, 200 and the triple jump.

“The whole band was my favorite competition in my high school career for this season as it was in my freshman year. I think it gave me real confidence that I had the potential to race at the next level,” a- he declared.

Udofia caught the eye of Yale athletics head coach George Evans last year.

“We saw him in a movie at the end of his freshman year, and we thought he had very real potential with some physical maturation,” Evans said. “We really like his athleticism, being a star in several sports.”

Montclair Kimberley graduate Isiah Udofia traveled with his father, Nkere, to the creek where his father used to fetch water for his village, Uruk Uso, Nigeria, during their visit this month. (Courtesy of the UDOFIA family)

Montclair Kimberley graduate Isiah Udofia traveled with his father, Nkere, to the creek where his father used to fetch water for his village, Uruk Uso, Nigeria, during their visit this month. (Courtesy of the UDOFIA family)

The trigger was Evans’ interview with Udofia. “When you talk to him, it’s obvious he’s passionate about what he does, on the track and in the classroom,” the coach said. “After visiting campus last summer with his family, I remember calling the director of athletics at Yale, telling him that Isiah is a student-athlete that we need to have here. He’s going to be a a great performer and an outstanding teammate.”

Udofia chose Yale, where he will move Aug. 21, over Brown, MIT, the University of Chicago and Duke.

“For me, Yale had the best balance,” Udofia said, referring to things that influenced his decision, including his “intuition” and where he was pushed by teachers, coaches and peers. “[That] made my decision pretty easy, especially after visiting campus a few times and meeting Coach Evans, with whom I felt I had the strongest bond of any coach I’ve met throughout throughout the recruitment process.

As for his events, Udofia didn’t learn to love the long jump until this year when he ditched the high jump in his favor.

“I had never been a fan of it, but I learned to really appreciate it during my senior season, and right now I would say it’s my favorite event I attend,” he said. he said about the long jump, his father’s specialty. .

Udofia did not start athletics until he enrolled in the MKA.

“My dad always told me about his love for athletics when I was younger, but I actually played baseball in the spring until high school,” he said. “He never pressured me to go on track, but he was very excited when I decided to start my first year.

Besides athletics, Udofia played basketball at MKA and set the school record in assists with 250 for his career there.

He remembers his favorite moment on the hard court was just before the start of the COVID pandemic, on February 28, 2020, at rival Montclair. As the Cougars lost 71-53, MKA was in the game for most of the game before Montclair retired in the fourth quarter.

“The energy before, during and after the game was the most intense energy I’ve ever felt at a sporting event, and I got to play in it, which was amazing,” Udofia said.

“I was able to score a few times too, and it was one of the most exciting nights of my life. I’ll never forget that.”

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