By Carl Holcomb
“I love Moorefield. The people here made me part of their family. I love them and they love me,” Moorefield High School Football rising senior kicker Atikilt Tamiru remarked.
Tamiru moved here from Africa before his freshman season and has become a beloved member of the close knit Moorefield community.
From coaches to teammates and the fans, Tamiru has been embraced as one of their own just as Yellow Jackets form a Hive protecting and nurturing those within the fold.
One thing is for sure, there has been plenty of folks in the community stepping up to provide meals for Tamiru and inviting him to their homes for fun activities such as preparing apple butter.
Moorefield Middle School Football head coach Eric Linville and his family were the ones inviting him to make that apple butter and extended an invitation to join in Thanksgiving on the farm in addition to just coming over to the house any time to have fun and fellowship together.
“Atikilt is like a son to us. He is always welcome to join us at our home. We love having him here,” MMS Coach Eric Linville noted.
Moorefield High School and Glenville State College alum Brian Wilson, who is the current MHS Football special teams coach, observed Tamiru launching the soccer ball around football field and asked if he had ever kicked a football before with a simple no as an answer and was willing to try when offered.
Wilson’s family has invited Tamiru to their home for meals and to church over the past few years he has been here in Moorefield.
Tamiru has been extremely grateful for the opportunities he has been given and when spotted on the sidelines is always cheerful with a huge smile on his face which brightens those around him.
Tamiru has become an instant role model as area youth are now looking up to him providing advice on kicking the football.
Stardom skyrocketed after setting a state record his freshman season with a 51-yard field goal which catapulted him unto the Class A All-State Football Second Team.
Tamiru added another second team honor during his sophomore season and as a junior was voted as a Class A Football All-State First Team member and has earned All-Potomac Valley Conference First Team honors throughout his career.
Tamiru has been calm under pressure hitting field goals from any distance and knocked in a game-winner at Pocahontas County in the waning moments of the contest with teammates rushing the field to celebrate with him.
Tamiru has learned how to make a tackle as a kicker and last season made a jarring hit saving a potential kick return, meanwhile sending the ball loose for a fumble which was recovered by the Yellow Jackets.
Winning all these awards is nice, but what really matters to Tamiru is helping the team win games.
“It is nice to win individual awards, but that’s not very important. I would rather trade all of them in to win a state championship. I believe in doing all I can do to help the team win games. My goal is to help Moorefield win a state championship. We have some really good players on the team this year, so the potential to win a state title is possible,” Tamiru commented.
Tamiru has a plethora of kicking duties with kickoffs, field goals and punting to assist the squad.
Tamiru is dedicated to that goal putting in extra time for practice including kicking the ball at the town park or wherever there is space to keep active and prepared for the season.
“He brings an ease of mind for me, I don’t have to think. When we reach a certain point on the field, I don’t have to think,” Moorefield Football head coach Matt Altobello noted.
“If we are in a pinch, I wholeheartedly trust him to kick it. I trust he can make it…he has worked hard to have that responsibility to be that guy to make a difference in a game. He has the dedication.”
Football wasn’t his first love, as soccer was his original sport coming from Ethiopia.
“When I first moved here, all I wanted to do was play soccer. There was no soccer team for me. I would have gone anywhere to play soccer. I discovered football and decided I liked it. It wasn’t too hard to kick the ball,” Atikilt said.
Tamiru also has a passion for tennis and has become one of the top players for the Yellow Jackets during his high school career.
Wilson has spent countless hours investing time in helping Tamiru become one of the elite kickers in West Virginia and chaperoning visits to Morgantown to compete in the annual Kohl’s Kicking Camp during the summer months.
“I am very proud of Atikilt and all he has accomplished. We are happy to have him be a part of our family. I will do anything I can to help him succeed,” MHS Special Teams coach Brian Wilson stated.
This past month at the Kohl’s Kicking Camp, Tamiru won the award for the longest field goal kick for the WVU Football indoors facility at a distance of 51 yards.
Tamiru joined Yellow Jacket Nation, both as a player and a family member making the Hive a better place.