After his first year at Belmont Hill, senior Ikenna Ugbaja ‘21 wasn’t sure whether it was the right fit. He hadn’t yet found his voice in the classroom, he hadn’t made many friends, and his grades weren’t where he wanted them to be. Coming from an area where most of his friends were black and hispanic, Ikenna wasn’t very comfortable in a school filled mostly with white kids. After a few years, however, Ikenna found his niche in the classroom, on the fields and courts, and socially. In middle school, the football teams he played on lost only 3 games in 3 years, and his basketball teams were equally as successful. His success in the middle school was only magnified in the coming years. His sophomore year, the team, specifically the defensive line, wasn’t the biggest (except for Ikenna himself), but they found a way to be extremely successful.
During Ikenna’s sophomore year in the homecoming against RL, Ikenna had 3 sacks, one forced fumble, and around 12 tackles for loss, in what some would say was the biggest game of any Belmont Hill defensive lineman. Belmont Hill made their way to a bowl game after winning the ISL and found themselves up against a statistically superior Suffield team. Nevertheless, Belmont Hill led in all four quarters in part due to Ikenna and the defensive line making it difficult for the Suffield offense. After his sophomore season, Ikenna was named All-ISL honorable mention, the first of many awards he would receive. The team’s success from earlier in the season continued into his junior year, and after the team won the league and went 8-1, Ikenna was named All-ISL first team and All New England. His performances in his junior year were even lauded in the Boston Globe. After being offered a scholarship by more than 25 schools after his junior year, Ikenna committed to play football at Yale University, which he will be attending next year. Although playing at that level of competition will be hard, he says, he is ready for the challenge and is excited to play with other Division 1 football players. When asked about his favorite part of the Belmont Hill football program, Ikenna said that “playing on the team has given him the opportunity to make life-long relationships with his teammates and coaches.”