By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
(March 2, 2014) – Heritage High School senior Paul Conteh has signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his football career at the Virginia Military Institute starting in the fall of 2014.
“VMI was my No. 1 choice in college for academics. When they sought interest in me I was very excited to be able to start the recruiting process,” said the 6-foot Conteh. “With such a low rate of jobs found after college especially in today’s economy, VMI’s statistics of 98-percent really persuaded me as well! I was looking for structure and with future goals of commissioning in the Marines, I knew that VMI was the right choice for my future.”
The journey to VMI will be a relatively short 137-mile trip for Conteh compared to the near 5,000-mile trip he took when he was four years old when he moved to the United States from his birthplace in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
In February 2000, Conteh’s father, Paul Sr., decided it was time for the family to relocate as Sierra Leone was war torn. Their first stop in the States was to Maryland. From there the Contehs moved to Fairfax before eventually settling down in Leesburg.
“When I first got to America it was breathtaking, and I became humbled at a very young age,” Conteh reminisced. “At seven I knew what I wanted to do and that was to join the military. I wasn’t happy with life in Africa because [militants] were taking things from me during the war. When I was four, living in America, I realized I had it good.”
Once established in Leesburg and at Heritage High School, Conteh became a key member of three varsity sports teams for the Pride. One of the true, three-sport athletes still in the county, Conteh excelled at football as well as basketball and soccer.
“Balancing all three sports has definitely been difficult at times. I felt that my talents in which God has blessed me with should never be put to waste,” Conteh said. “I thrive on never being content with my results and efforts and pushing people around me to become better within themselves has made me a great teammate which I take pride in.”
Conteh noted that playing basketball was his only real athletic desire when he entered high school, but upon arrival at Heritage his plans changed.
“I ended up throwing myself at football, basketball and soccer,” Conteh said. “My favorite sport by far is football because it’s a sport where having size has great advantage, but when you implement your knowledge and tie things together you reach a whole new side of the game.”
Conteh – who has soccer tryouts in less than a week – finished his senior year of basketball on Feb. 18. Working non-stop, all year long, Conteh will add a sense of control and an amazing work ethic to a struggling VMI program this fall.
“I’ve held many leadership roles at Heritage,” said Conteh who is a member of the Pride’s SCA. “I feel confident in fulfilling leadership roles which can contribute to the football team.”
Humbled since he was just four years old, Conteh remains humbled even to this day after signing his National Letter of Intent to play football at the Division I level.
“It is an absolute honor,” said Conteh who will play defensive back for the DI Keydets. “I know many other athletes were hoping to be in my position. So I plan on taking every experience out of this and bettering myself as a person and player.”
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!