Return to Headlines

2017 Alumni: Frederick Law Olmsted, PS 156

At Boston College, Isaiah McDuffie still speaks loudest on the football field.


Credit: Buffalo News


Isaiah McDuffie needed football gloves. Not one pair. Not two, but three pairs. 

When he made the request to his father, Steve, who was also his football coach at Bennett High School, Steve didn’t say no. But he questioned his son’s request for extra equipment before he relented and bought the three pairs of gloves. 

A few days later, Steve McDuffie took inventory of his football team at Bennett, a collection of students from seven high schools in Buffalo. He noticed one of his players wearing the gloves he’d bought for his son. 

“Isaiah has a pair and he’s wearing them, but he’s sharing with his teammates,” Steve McDuffie said. “They might not have what he has. Isaiah always wanted to give the impression that I was buying something for him, but he wanted to his teammates to have what he had, too. Quietly, he would give. He was giving like that.” 

It was always in Isaiah McDuffie’s understated nature to help others, whether he was working with special-needs students in a gym class at Frederick Law Olmsted School, or convincing friends and baseball teammates to play football. 

Now a redshirt junior and a linebacker at Boston College, McDuffie still speaks and acts with thought. But when he's on the football field, he performs with a roar.  

He’s second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and is tied for second in the nation in tackles as Boston College plays Saturday at Georgia Tech. 

“My dad helped me get to this point, and my uncles, all who played at the Division I level,” McDuffie said. “We knew what it took to get to this point, but it’s about putting in the work off the field and staying on top of everything you do. Be in the books. Go to the weight room. Take the guidance. A big part of this has been someone being there for you, and knowing what to do, and what you need to do.” 


From a competitive family 

McDuffie grew up in a family of athletes. His father and uncles, Chris and Teddy, played football at the University at Buffalo in the early 1990s. His younger sister, Gabby, is a freshman on the Niagara County Community College women’s basketball team and is Olmsted’s career leading scorer in girls basketball. His cousin, Dylan, is a running back at UB. His younger brother, Noah, is a budding athlete. 

Family gatherings almost always become competitive affairs. Pickup basketball games among the cousins and uncles have lasted for hours, and almost always end with hugs and good-natured ribbing. 

“My teammates from Bennett would come over, too, and we just played basketball, and it was so competitive,” Isaiah McDuffie said. “There was a hard foul here and there, but we always had fun. And we still talk about those times.”