Hector Valles came to Kansas City Kansas Community College to learn English – and play soccer.
Today, the native of Valencia, Spain, is signed and sealed to continue his education at Mid-America Christian University (MACU) in Oklahoma City, Okla. A soccer power as a member of the Sooner Athletic Conference, MACU (12-5-1) is headed for this fall's NAIA national tournament.
A member of KCKCC's 2017 team that won Jayhawk Conference and Plains District championships and the College's first ever national tournament appearance, Valles was captain of the 2018 Blue Devil team.
Valles chose Mid-America Christian from offers from 30 NAIA and NCAA DII colleges because of financial considerations. "I will not have to ask my parents for money," says Valles, who will receive tuition, room and board at MACU. "I will also have a part-time job."
KCKCC Coach Ruben Rodriguez said his academic success was a major factor in earning 30-40 offers from other colleges and universities. "He's really a great kid who did exceptionally well in the class room, Because of his high performances academically and on the field, he had a tremendous amount of opportunities. We're definitely going to miss him."
A standout on club teams in Spain, Valles was steered to KCKCC by a soccer recruiting agent. "I only knew basic English," enough to pass exams to get him into the U.S. and KCKCC. Now fluent, he'll earn an AA degree from KCKCC in May and then pursue a degree in Economics at MACU.
The best part of his KCKCC career? "The people," he says quickly. "My coaches, Ruben (Rodriguez) and Burke (Slusher); some of the people who have already left; and all those here. They were the best part."
Ironically, Valles will be reunited with one of those who have left. One of last year's players and manager on this year's KCKCC team, Guilherme Grave, is enrolled at Oklahoma City University and as members of the same conference they'll go head-to-head on the soccer field,
With head coach Ruben Rodriguez (left) and assistant coach Burke Slusher as witnesses, Kansas City Kansas Community College soccer standout signed to continue his education at Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City, Okla. (KCKCC Photo)