Stranger in a strange land

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

The Selma-Times Journal

On a field intended for football scrimmages, Concordia College soccer player Kevin Felix bounced a soccer ball between his head, feet and a wall before an audience of weeds posing as hedges.

Felix, a senior, is a native of Trinidad and Tobago. Concordia College’s former soccer coach, Winston Williams, recruited Felix three years ago.

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“He is from Trinidad and wanted to give other players from there an opportunity in this country,” Felix said of Williams.

Though such a life-altering move is never easy, Felix was lucky. His sister moved to the United States with her husband a few years ago and made his transition a little easier. But there were still rough patches.

“At times, it was really difficult because my mom, family and friends were all back home,” said Felix. “But sacrifices have to be made accomplish what you want to do. So I just made that sacrifice.”

The next year, Williams turned the reins over to his former pupil, Brent Dukhie. Williams recruited Dukie from Trinidad in 1999. Following his career, Dukhie took an assistant coaching job at Concordia.

Like Felix, transitioning from a Trinidad and Tobago resulted in a case of culture shock. However, the decision was simple for him and his family.

“It’s not hard to sell families abroad on sending their children overseas,” said Dukhie. “They view coming to America as a great opportunity.”

Three years later, Felix has left an indelible imprint on Concordia College. He is a co-captain with a 3.5 GPA and will graduate with a degree in business administration.

“For the most part, you want to be a student-athlete,” said Felix. “I came here with the mindset that school work comes first, and then I play soccer.”

Now, on a hot summer day and with his last season ahead of him, Felix is preparing himself – all by himself.

While most voluntary workouts involve coaches supervising players, he has taken it upon himself to improve his skills on the Concordia football team’s practice field.

“The majority of professionals always say hard work pays off,” said Felix. “When you come out here and put in the extra effort, you actually see the results.”