KIPP’s Pyram earns a full ride to Centre

Olivier Pyram was a CAC all-star this fall for the KIPP football team. (Item Photo by Katie Morrison)

LYNN– KIPP Academy student-athlete Olivier Pyram is dedicated in everything he sets out to accomplish. As a starting offensive/defensive lineman, Pyram was a cornerstone player on a Panthers team that won three games in its inaugural season. In the classroom, Pyram boasts a 3.5 GPA and hopes to pursue a career in nursing.

Now Pyram’s dedicated efforts are paying off. The KIPP senior will be attending Centre College in Danville, Kentucky this upcoming fall with a full-tuition scholarship from The Posse Foundation. Pyram plans on studying biology while chasing a spot on the school’s Division III football team as a walk-on.

“We’re excited about it,” KIPP football coach Jim Rabbitt said. “Olivier will walk on for the team. It’s a pretty good program, they finished 9-1 last season. They have a pretty talented roster and we’re hoping he goes out there and gets some playing time. He’s athletic for his size and he has great football IQ. He has raw athletic ability that can’t be coached.”

Pyram, who’s of Haitian descent, was surprised when he found out the news that he’d be selected to receive the full-tuition scholarship. He received a phone call with the news and swiftly told his mother, Miguelle Francois.

“I didn’t know what the phone call was about,” Pyram recalled. “When they told me I had gotten the scholarship, I started to shake a little bit. The first thing I did was tell my mom.

“This is really important to me,” Pyram added. “My parents came from Haiti and they didn’t have a lot. We didn’t have a big house when I got here. Getting the opportunity to go to college with most of it paid for is a huge burden off my mother’s shoulders. It shows that what my parents did for me finally paid off.”

In his lone season playing high school football, Pyram morphed into a two-way weapon on both sides of the ball for the Panthers. Offensively, he protected KIPP’s first 1,000-yard rusher in quarterback Kymani Morrison from the right tackle position. Defensively, he gave opposing quarterbacks headaches as a defensive end capable of causing chaos in the backfield.

He was one of KIPP’s three Commonwealth Athletic Conference all-star selections along with Morrison and lineman Mike Brice.

“His football IQ is great,” Rabbitt said. “Olivier can really move for his size and any college can work with him toward becoming a great football player. In one year of playing he was a standout for us and I can only imagine what he’ll do at the next level. He has a great combination of size, strength and intelligence.”

Although the Panthers, who finished the year at 3-8, didn’t win as many games as they had hoped, Pyram’s biggest takeaway is the improvements the team made in the final stretch of the season. The Panthers won two of their final three games with victories over South Boston and Burke.

“It was a rollercoaster ride,” Pyram said. “We won our first game and then we lost a couple games in a row. The players who stuck around until the end of the season helped us build a community. We won a couple games at the end of the season and we pushed ourselves. That made me enjoy the end of the season.”

Although he made the most of his lone season on the gridiron, Pyram acknowledged that he’s up against it as he aims for a role on the roster at Centre. Most of the incoming freshmen he’ll be competing against will be more experienced players, but that doesn’t mean Pyram will back down from the challenge.

“This was my first year ever playing football,” Pyram said. “I’ll work on learning more about the game. I want to stay in shape to be able to go out and run with the players in college. I understand there are challenges. Pushing myself to be ready for that will be important. You can never be too prepared.”

Over the past three seasons, the Colonels have won 25 of their 30 games. Last fall, they averaged 37.8 points per contest.

“They’re a good team,” Pyram said. “They blew a lot of teams out of the water. I know they’re well-coached and it shows. They do very well.”

Earning the scholarship serves as proof the Pyram’s impact on the Panthers stretches beyond the field. With student-athlete leaders like Pyram setting the bar for the Panthers, Rabbitt’s hopeful that more of his players will follow similar paths in the future.

“Olivier’s a role model on and off the field,” Rabbitt said. “He’s a model student-athlete. He only missed a few practices and that was to go for college interviews. Even then, he was heartbroken about missing practice. He’d never played football before but he jumped right in and became a leader. If anyone deserves this scholarship it’s definitely him.”

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