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Running It Out

First Generation Student Wins on the Field and in the Classroom

Wyryor Noil’s youngest brother, Yahkyll, arrives each morning at the front door of a prestigious private middle school in Portland. Yahkyll’s path to college is clearer than his older brother’s was. That is exactly the ripple effect Noil hoped for.

“It was always a goal to go to college,” Noil said, “and I knew I could help turn the tide.”

He went to a public high school where he played football and was a good student — laying the groundwork for his collegiate success. The fifth of nine children, Noil was the first in his family to graduate from college.

He knows his accomplishments helped build a pathway for his younger siblings, including Michael, who is also a Vandal Football player in his fourth year. But it has been anything but easy.

  • Homesickness year one: check.
  • A football injury leading to absences and two failed classes year two: check.
  • Dad passing away year three: check.

“That’s when I knew I couldn’t quit,” Noil said. “College graduation was his goal for me and my goal for myself.”

  • COVID-19 driving school online year four: check.

He immersed himself in the brotherhood of his team, retook the two classes and kept his eye on the goal: being a teacher and, eventually, an athletic director.

The struggles and the scars — physical and emotional — can’t be seen as he laughs and plays with kids at Lena Whitmore Elementary School in Moscow, where he did part of his student teaching.

Wyryor stands at the classroom door giving high fives to elementary students as they leave his class.
Wyryor gives high fives to students as they leave his elementary P.E. class.

“He is the perfect example of what you hope students become in college,” said Krista Gray, his advisor in the Athletics department.

At times the classes for his exercise science degree — anatomy, physiology, labs, student teaching — seemed too much.

When the classes were getting tough, I was two-and-a-half years in. I knew I couldn’t stop. Wyryor Noil, graduate student

“When the classes were getting tough, I was two-and-a-half years in. I knew I couldn’t stop.”

He feels at home teaching physical education, especially at Moscow High School, another site of his student teaching. There, he saw few differences between leading older teens through the lessons and practicing them with his peers on campus.

“The students responded to me well.”

The younger kids taught him patience and bolstered his classroom management skills.

“His personality engages others,” said Cate Egan Loiacono, his professor and academic advisor. “He is like a magnet.”

His authenticity bolsters his natural leadership skills. People gravitate to him, she said.

“Students totally respect him,” Loiacono said. “He has helped me grow as a teacher as well. Wyryor shows you it is OK to be yourself.”

Wyryor answers questions in front of a group of sitting students.
Wyryor works with a group of students in his elementary P.E. class.

He built his support system early. It was his high school vice principal who set him on the path to being a teacher. Gray and Loiacono continued that mentorship and supported him.

“I had a lot of people in my corner,” he said.

He is the perfect example of what you hope students become in college. Krista Gray, Athletic department advisor
  • Graduating first half of year five: check.

Noil isn’t finished. He still has football eligibility and a desire to continue his education.

  • Starting graduate school second half of year five: check.

Noil will stay at U of I, pursuing a master’s degree in education while playing out the remainder of his football eligibility.

“It’s proof of his dedication,” Gray said. “He could transfer anywhere to finish his football career, but he wants to be here. He is going to be a great role model for all his students.”

  • Knowing you did the right things for the right reasons: check.

“I feel so prepared to go into my field,” Noil said.

Article by Jodi Walker, University Communications and Marketing.

Photography by University of Idaho Creative Services.

Published in the Spring 2022 issue of Here We Have Idaho.


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