Athlete Spotlight: Pittsfield's Kevin and Emmanuel Amenlemah
A few days after helping set a new school record in the 4x100 relay in a track and field meet at Monument Mountain, Pittsfield High seniors Kevin and Emmanuel Amenlemah stopped by The Eagle offices. The brothers chatted about their track careers, future plans and a past that includes growing up in Africa, speaking four languages and their arrival in the Berkshires as middle schoolers.
Berkshire Eagle: Where are you guys from originally?
Emmanuel Amenlemah: We're from Africa. We were born in Ghana, in Accra, which is a city in Ghana.
Kevin Amenlemah: He was 11 and I was 13 when we moved here. Our dad had moved here when we were little.
BE: What was that change like?
EA: I loved it when we came here.
KA: I like it, but I didn't know how to speak English.
EA: You guys were speaking really, really fast. When I first saw, because where we lived, we didn't really see white people that much. Now it's cool, because we speak English, but it was so fast-paced. We just take our time with it. As time went on, we caught up.
KA: It only took like two months, because we were going to school. Repeating what people said helped learning.
BE: How many languages do you speak?
KA: English is our fourth language
EA: We speak Fante, which was our first language, then Nzema and Twi.
BE: Where did you go to school when you first got to Pittsfield?
KA: We went to Herberg.
EA: They put me in fourth grade and him in third grade, but they mixed us up.
KA: After a month or so, they moved us into sixth grade, where we should have been.
BE: What's next for you guys?
EA: I hope things really work out, but I got in to Springfield College, and I went there for recruiting day, talked to the coach and watched a practice. I was accepted, just have to work with the money so I can get there. I want to register for athletic training, but just applied for physical therapy. So I'd be going in as undecided.
KA: I'm not sure what I want to do yet, so I'm taking Liberal Arts for two years at BCC to try out different things.
BE: Is track something you dove right into?
EA: I was actually going to play tennis freshman year.
KA: But we had this teacher, Ms. Dixon, she was our tutor since middle school. She helped us a lot.
EA: She was awesome helping with English vocabulary. She asked if we liked to run. I said yeah. So we tried track and fell in love with it. I never thought of myself as a runner.
KA: Sophomore year we started doing really well.
BE: What do you guys do to get ready for sprinting?
EA: Personally, I'm at the gym all of the time. I'm always working out. We play soccer in the fall, but all winter we are at the gym getting ready for track. We have an uncle, called Dunker, he's the girls track coach for jumping and sprinting. He tweaks what we do technique-wise.
KA: In the summer he works us out really hard. He knows what he's doing.
BE: What are your guys' main events and what's competition like in the Berkshires?
KA: I do the 400, 4x100 and 4x400. I'm not sure yet who is going to be there in the County. My teammates push me in the 400. We haven't lost the 4x100 in three years, except the one time we dropped the baton, but that's something we don't talk about.
EA: My favorite is the 200. I don't know why, but I've been trying to perfect my starts, but I can't get it right. The 100 is all the start, without that you lose. The 200 gives me more time. Even with a poor start, finishing, I'm going to be there. I'd say Matt Lighten, from Wahconah, is the toughest. Then Emmanuel Nda, my cousin at Pittsfield.
BE: With the 4x100, you broke the school record with a 44.5, how has that team come along?
EA: We added Emmanuel Nda in for Mark Brights. Emmanuel is our cousin. Then David Kankam is just a friend.
KA: The funny thing is, for the 4x100, we're all Ghanaians.
BE: As brothers what's the worst fight you've had?
KA: We fought one time over a stupid XBox game.
EA: I mean mean we argue a lot, but it's not serious stuff.
KA: We just argue and then start laughing.
BE: What are you guys listening to right before a big race?
EA: Mostly hip-hop, but that's him. He's a DJ on the side.
KA: I go by DJ Kev-o. I do Young Thug, Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky.
BE: What do you like about living in the Berkshires?
KA: A lot of people will say that they don't like it here. I kind of like it. But it is small. On the weekends there is sometimes nothing to do if you're not with your friends. What I like about it, is that it is simple, as opposed to the cities with traffic and buses and people.
BE: Do you ever go back to Ghana?
EA: We haven't been back. It costs a lot to go there, and there are three of us [younger brother Mark is a freshman on the PHS track team] and my dad, so it's a lot of money. But he says maybe in two or three years. We have a lot of family there and all over the world. Some in Italy, London, Australia, but mostly in Ghana.
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