Digital Story

High school students all over the United States spend their lives preparing for a dream of playing collegiate football. Isaiah Shirley’s fate was changed when his life was flipped upside down. Isaiah found strength in his strange situation and allowed him to pursue his dreams in ways he never could have imagined.

Meet Isaiah:

Isaiah Shirley is a freshman at North Carolina State University. Isaiah is on the football team at NC State where is majoring in Sports Management but is thinking about switching to Criminology. Isaiah moved to Raleigh in January of 2023 after graduating from Watauga High School a semester early.

What’s his story?

Isaiah has been playing football since 2010 when he was in kindergarten. He played for Equip Sports Ministry in Boone, North Carolina where he met many of his best friends. Isaiah was in fifth grade when he needed to find a place to stay as his mother could not take care of him and his sister. He had no one to call but his football and little-league baseball coach, Joe Temple. Joe and his wife, Shelia had four children of their own and willingly took Isaiah and his sister for the weekend. Nevertheless, Isaiah and his sister have stayed with the Temples ever since. The family took care of Isaiah and his sister in ways that their parents couldn’t. The stable household allowed for Isaiah’s desire to play football at the collegiate level. Isaiah was able to eat well and grow strong and tall while living with the Temples. He was a member of the high school varsity football team all four years at Watauga High School where he led the team to four consecutive conference championships. As a sophomore, Isaiah received his first full-ride scholarship offer from Appalachian State University. This was the moment where Isaiah realized his dreams were coming true. Isaiah is now continuing his academic and athletic career at NC State. Isaiah believes that his hard situation was actually his saving grace. Leaving the home that he knew and living with the Temples allowed Isaiah to thrive and achieve his dreams.

Isaiah saw the good in his situation. Through the hard times, he found strength and used it to propel him towards his goals. Isaiah gives all the credit to Joe for pushing him forward and ultimately leading him to where he is now. Without Joe’s efforts Isaiah doesn’t know where he would have ended up. Because of Joe’s guidance Isaiah was able to properly prepare for the collegiate recruitment process.

What does it take to play college football?

Isaiah was told that people spend 10,000 hours preparing to play football in college. He was not afraid of this statistic. Isaiah was motivated to do anything he needed to do to achieve his dream.

Isaiah was a freshman in high school when the world shut down due to Covid-19. He took advantage of the free time that Covid-19 provided and used every spare moment working on growing his talents in football. When he wasn’t on the field or in the weight room, Isaiah would be found eating anything he could find. The rigorous work that Isaiah put into football most definitely paid off.

Isaiah’s Story:

Look out for Isaiah as number 88 on NC State’s football team. His first official game will be played on September 2, 2023. Isaiah has an exciting career ahead of him. His story is just beginning.