The rule was set.
By now, the season opener against Washington, D.C.’s Archbishop Carroll was three days away, and anyone interested in playing for the 2015 Shroder High School football team already missed the deadline to join.
Head coach Gerald Warmack wouldn’t budge, not even for the kid standing on the side of practice watching. It didn’t matter that he spent the summer in Atlanta, or that he could be the team’s new kicker. Warmack remained insistent.
Until he heard the thud.
The thud kept happening. Over and over.
“What is that?” Warmack said he thought to himself.
It was the kid kicking the ball. One of Warmack’s assistants grabbed a tee when he wasn’t looking and set the ball up for kick after kick. They remained consistent and better than anyone on the roster.
Instantly, the rule was rewritten.
“OK, go suit that kid up,” Warmack insisted.
The Jaguars had a new kicker. His name was Muhammad Bah, and he instantly became the most versatile player in the program’s recent history.
From learning football to becoming a three-time CMAC first-team kicker
Bah laughs looking back.
“Man, I kicked it like 25 yards. I was young back then,” he said recalling his tryout.
But those kicks were the first time he’d stepped on a football field.
Born in Atlanta, Bah moved to the Republic of The Gambia in Africa on May 25, 2005. He was 4. There, the only sport he knew was soccer. At 13, he returned to the United States to live with his aunt. The flight back to the United States was on April 27, 2014, and he hasn’t seen his mom since. He hasn’t seen his dad in six years.
“I never thought I’d go a day without seeing my mom, but it’s been four years, now, plus,” Bah said. “It was hard but I’ve gotten used to it now.”
He’s gotten used to football, too.
If Shroder had a soccer team, he probably would’ve played that instead. But with no soccer program, Bah stood on the sideline at a football practice instead. Once he began kicking a new ball, he instantly worked his way into the team’s plans, even if he didn’t know the sport’s rules.