Yusuf Mukhtar ’20 is the well-deserved athlete of the issue. The 6’2, 270-pound offensive lineman came to Deerfield three years ago as a sophomore and has had a strong impact on the team and community ever since.
Mukhtar was named Yusuf after his great-grandfather. He traces his family’s roots back to Nigeria and described being Muslim as a big part of his life. Mukhtar credited his success in life thus far in large part to his mother.
“She took me to a bunch of camps over the summer. She’s always supporting me and checking up on me to make sure I’m alright and well enough to play football. She’s really important,” he said.
Mukhtar is a big presence on the field, both as a physically strong player and as a supportive teammate. Captain Will Savage ’20 said, “I remember the first day I came down to football, he just had a bright energy. I got to know him better, he loves talking to people and is super open. He’s an old-school football player, puts the grit in, I love how he plays.”
Under Mukhtar’s leadership, boys varsity football has been able to get off to a solid 5-2 start. Two of his offensive line teammates, Marcus Romboli ’20 and Chase Stadtler ’20, could only say positive things about Mukhtar’s game and character. Romboli was a new junior last year and met Mukhtar at the beginning of the football season: “I’ve known Yusuf the last two years, and he’s a good kid. He takes care of his academics…so he’s doing the right thing.” Stadtler, who met Yusuf on his visit to Deerfield back in December 2018, added, “He’s a hard-working kid, he’s always going to give his best to make the play and play his hardest the whole game.”
Romboli applauded Mukhtar’s development as a player over the course of his time at Deerfield. “I think he was pretty new to football and he’s already taken it to another level I’ve seen him improve a lot since he started getting some reps last year, and he can only go up from here,” he said.
Along with being a starter for Deerfield football, Mukhtar is also a sophomore boys proctor on Louis Marx. His fellow proctor Sim Bethel ’20 is very grateful for their friendship. “He is definitely a chill person. He likes to have a good time and have fun and joke around, but he’s also down-to-earth and knows how to get his work done when he needs to. I think the sophomores are really lucky to have him as a proctor. If I could describe him in one word it would be ‘homie.’”
Varsity football managers Jason Hutchinson ’21 and Emma Kimble ’20 agreed that Mukhtar possesses a particularly amiable personality. Kimble, who noted Mukhtar’s lighthearted personality, said, “He’s just a great guy, super funny, I always say he’s one of the funniest guys on the team, always making people laugh,” she said.
Mukhtar recalls that his favorite DA football memory was last season’s game against Cheshire.
“No one thought we would win. We didn’t even think we would win, but we just came out and smacked them, so it was fun,” he said.
After Deerfield, Mukhtar plans to continue his football career at Middlebury College. When asked about why he committed to play at Middlebury, he said “I felt like it was the right fit. It was a good environment and a beautiful campus. They were one of the few schools who recruited me; they’re a good football team: doing really good this year especially, too.”