Brazilian players earn post-season honors while becoming proficient in English language
Gaspar led the Jayhawk Conference with a Blue Devil record 17 goals and was second in assists with 11 and was named to both the All-Jayhawk Conference and All-Region first teams. A defender, Angelo was also a first team All-Jayhawk pick and second team All-Region selection. Together, they along with five other all-conference honorees helped lead KCKCC to a 10-4 record and second place in the Jayhawk.
Just as impressive has been there success in ESOL classes and particularly learning the English language. Neither spoke a word of English when they arrived this summer. "We just shook our heads," said Angelo. "They've done well in the classroom and hopefully next semester they'll be taking regular college classes," said Ruben Rodriguez, KCKCC head soccer coach.
The two also take part in the BOSS after school program in which they work with elementary students not only in learning soccer skills but on teaching life skills.
Both players are from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where they started playing soccer at early ages. "Last year, we had two players from Brazil who were so successful academically and on the playing field and were also impressed with our college facilities, academics, athletics and coaching staff and were helpful in recruiting more students," said Rodriguez. "We met Hiago and Ricardo on Skype and between our communication on Skype and watching them playing on video we thought they'd be a pretty good fit for KCKCC."
Their arrival at KCKCC top their list of highlights. "The first day, everything was new for me, the language, practices, the college, the people," says Gaspar. "People were nice," said Angelo. "And mainly the weather. It was hot. So much humidity."
Both players started every game this fall. "The competition is about the same as Brazil but the game is more physical here and we play more games," says Ricardo. "Soccer is more technical in Brazil," says KCKCC assistant coach Burke Slusher.
"Hiago is pretty much a natural talent, a natural goal scorer," says Rodriguez. "He's usually in the right place a lot and you can't teach that." "He also has great speed, probably in the 4.4 range," adds Slulsher.
"Ricardo is very technical, is very good on and off the ball and has a high soccer IQ," says Rodriguez. "Very calm under pressure, good in the air and reads the game very well," agrees Slusher.
Their talents have not gone unnoticed. "I've already been contacted by some Division I schools and all the local NAIA schools," says Rodriguez. "Their desire is to play at the next level, either in Division I or professionally. This has been our best year so far and we expect better next year. We have a bright future."
Gaspar and Angelo plan to be a part of that future. "We are so thankful for the opportunities we have here," says Gaspar. "Everyone has been so helpful, all the teachers, the trainers and especially our
Joining Gaspar and Angelo on the All-Jayhawk first team was midfielder Guilherme Grave of Sao Paulo; while second team selections included sophomore forward Thiago Elias, also of Sao Paulo; sophomore midfielders Giovanni Calderon of J.C. Harmon and Tanner Helms of Ashland, Mo.; and sophomore defender Jake Salmons, also of Ashland, Mo.
The 2016 soccer season (10-4) was one of the best ever at KCKCC thanks to the efforts of coaches Ruben Rodriguez (left) and Burke Slusher (right) and All-Jayhawk first team selections Hiago Gaspar (second left) and Ricardo Angelo. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)