He Plays For Her: Isaiah Birl Reflects On His Football Career and His Relationship With His Mom


Courtesy of Isaiah Birl

Isaiah Birl, ‘23, took a visit to Ohio State University in June of 2021 and his coach, James Crook accompanied him on the visit. “When explaining the new program, he had a big focus on college sports and getting kids there,” Makan Sacko, ‘23, said, “He definitely has had more involvement, trying to get players scholarships and taking initiative.”

Isaiah Birl, ‘23, is a running back and safety for WHHS football. Birl is motivated by the strength his mother has shown him throughout his life and has his father to thank for introducing him to the game. 

Birl’s dad played football at Tuskegee University, as a tight end. Birl began playing football in the first grade when his dad took him to a practice in Mt. Airy.

“I would say I was really good, ever since then I’ve thought I’d be able to play at the next level,” Birl said. 

He had a successful  first varsity start against the Withrow Tigers during his sophomore year, where WHHS pulled away with the win. 

Birl has taken visits to The University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University, but has talked with the coaching staff of other highly ranked football schools such as Clemson.  

“I really liked both, but I loved Ohio State, the facility and the players,” Birl said. After his visit to Ohio State in June this summer, he received an official letter on Sept. 8. 

“I wasn’t expecting it, going into my junior season I wasn’t expecting any looks [from colleges],” Birl said. “I felt like they really wanted me, and that I was meant to play [college football].”

Birl acknowledges the team’s struggles so far this season, with tough losses in weeks one and two, but is hopeful for future games after adjustments to the lineup following their 8-34 loss against the Milford Eagles in week three.

“We just need to fine tune our offense and then we’ll be straight,” Birl said. “We might have [SENIOR] Cevie [Smoot] start at running back instead of me, so that I can focus primarily on defense.”

Birl has formed a close relationship with many of his teammates such as Javion Bostic, ‘23, Makan Sacko, ‘23, and SENIOR Avery Wyatt. 

“They became my brothers,” Birl said. “I love them. I think it’s the fact that they want to be there and are willing to put in the work the same way that I am.”

His grind and ambition does not come without inspiration. Birl’s mother, Connette Birl battled breast cancer when he was 10, Birl views his mother as a symbol of s

Isaiah Birl '23 stands on the field after a game with his mom
Isaiah Birl, ‘23, and his mother Connette Birl have a very special connection. Her resilience and strength is what he tries to mirror in his own life.
(Courtesy of Isaiah Birl)

trength in his life.               

“I’m happy that she’s still here,” Birl said. “At the time I was young, I didn’t really know what it was, but now looking back, I could’ve lost her.”

Birl’s mother is a key component in the football program. She comes to every game, helps out with the team, provides team meals and makes sure that Birl and his teammates are always hydrated. 

“She’s my backbone, I love her,” Birl said. “She’s my best friend. I can tell her anything.”

Birl thinks he stands out to college teams due to his size, but feels he leaves a different impact on this team. Birl serves as a leader on his team and hopes to positively impact as many teammates as possible, just as his mother has positively impacted him. 

“My role is to keep the team together, we might be falling apart because we have a losing record right now, [but] I just want to keep everyone’s heads up,” Birl said. 

Birl’s mother keeps him motivated and grounded to continue excelling both as a student and as an athlete. He wants to be remembered for being a student athlete, graduating from WHHS and hopefully making it to the National Football League. The support from his mother is helping him along the way. 

“Knowing what [my mom] has been through and what she sacrificed for her family pushes me to be my best at all times,” Birl said. “I play for her.”