“I Hated Not Being The Best”: Moussa Kane’s Rise From Football Kid on the Block to Duke University Commit

In the fading rays of a scorching summer afternoon, a fifth grader walks up to a group of seventh graders playing football. Standing almost a head shorter than most of them, he was the last to be picked for the team with an unenthusiastic “Yeah, you.” When the game began after a shrill whistle, the fifth grader sprinted across the field with the football clenched to his chest, dodged the flailing hands of the older players with ease, heading straight for the touchdown again and again. Since then, he became the first one to be picked on the team. His name was Moussa Kane.

Six years later, a standing ovation on the Blair Academy football field accompanied him under the night lights as the team won 9-6 in their season’s first home game last Friday. Now a high school senior, Kane ’23 is the No. 2 navy kit on the school team, which is affectionately known as Ohana. Kane will depart to Duke University as a football commit when his last Blair season concludes in three months.

Kane was first inspired to play football when he saw his older brother Sanoussi Kane ’20 playing. He quickly developed a genuine love for the sport, which went beyond “getting better than my brother” throughout the years.

Moussa Kane ’23 fist bumps older brother Sanoussi Kane ’20 before a football game.

“I really like the physical, fast-paced aspect of the sport, which I still do to this day,” Kane said. “The thing I love most about football is that it helps me to reach out to my community. I want to inspire the little kids that there’s more to life than the streets.”

During his freshman year, Kane was the backup player to a senior in Christ the King Regional High school, which was at one point the No.1 football team in New York, and it became his motivation to improve his playing.

“I hated not playing,” Kane said. “I could have contributed more than just watching the games every practice, so those summers were when I worked the most. That’s where I made my biggest growth as a football athlete.”

Kane’s summer training plan, rotating between fieldwork, conditioning, upper body, and lower body, continued 7-days a week. The athlete also watched “films” on Hudl during his free time, a performance analysis website with football game footage, to learn more about the statistics, scores, and movement tendencies of other athletes. Despite the vigorous schedule of the practices, Kane believed the result paid off.

“After my first year of playing, I wanted to give up, especially when I was a backup,” Kane admitted. “But me being the competitor I am, I want to be better than everybody.”

“Because I fell in love with the sport, I just focused on the outcome and how it can prepare me to be at the level when everybody on the field knows my name,” he added.

Being a professional football player demanded not only physical fitness but also mental well-being, especially during competitions. For Kane, the most challenging part was maintaining confidence in both good and bad games.

“One little mistake could cost you six points,” Kane said. “You have to walk into every situation confident. Even if you do get beaten, you just have to think about the next play instead of dwelling on what happened in the past.”

“Every week I do enough preparation on the team for us to succeed. Before the game, I always believe we are going to win, relax, and get in the zone,” the 17-year-old added.

When the Covid-19 pandemic started, Kane decided to follow in his older brother’s footsteps to pursue his football career at Blair Academy. Here, he ranked as the best safety and corner in New Jersey, and was ranked as the no.1 Jersey athlete on ESPN. Kane believes his discipline and preparation are his greatest strengths that allowed him to succeed.

“The sport will take you where you want to go if you are willing to put in the work,” Kane said. “It’s okay to have fun, but you need to sacrifice to be the best.”

Besides his own hard work, the 17-year-old also gives credit to Ohana and the coaches.

“The team is just like a family, which explains the name,” the Duke commit said. “We know our strengths, our weaknesses, and what we gotta do to get better. We have a small team, but we all play hard and fast.”

“Last year, Mike Higgins ’22 and me as a quarterback were always on the same page. Before the play even happens, we already know where the ball is going to,” he added.

Outside of Blair, Kane is most grateful for Coach George from his Harlem hometown, who has been supporting his football journey since Day 1.

“Coach George was the first person to tell me that I was going to be this good,” Kane said. “Even before I knew it, he really instilled the confidence in me that I have today.”

While Kane aspires to continue his football career in the NFL after Duke University, he also hopes to develop a backup career through networking.

“Football will end at some point, whether I like it or not,” Kane said. “After I’m done with the NFL, I still want to do something with my life. I love football, but life is more than that.”

Chloe Lau

High school senior Chloe Lau is an aspiring journalist attending Blair Academy. Chloe wrote for Young Post of South China Morning Post, the largest English newspaper in her hometown, Hong Kong as a Junior Reporter from 2017 to 2020, and worked as a full-time summer cadet in 2019. During her American education, she remains an active writer and editor at The Oracle, and took part in the Medill Cherubs Journalism Program with Northwestern University over the summer. Chloe enjoys reporting on a wide variety of topics, from sports profiles, personal essays, to occasional poetry when she falls into an existential crisis.

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