The BMCC men’s soccer team won their fourth straight City University of New York Athletic Conference Championship (CUNYAC) this season, capping off a 9-6-1 campaign with a victory that further turned heads of those in the soccer world to this community college’s surprising success.
Now, three outgoing players have the awards to prove they played their part in continuing BMCC on its successful path even as they leave the college.
And the Award Goes to …
At the end of the season, the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Region XV named BMCC’s Guebrina Zampaligre to the All-Region 1st Team, captain Byron John to All-Region 2nd team, and Claudio Murdock to the Regional Sportsmanship team.
“When I first heard it I was really happy — I said ‘wow, that’s great,’ because I didn’t expect it,” Zampaligre said. “It makes me happy because I know I made my contribution to the team.”
Said John: “I was happy with myself. I always want to do more and do better, but I was happy with that.”
And they may have Murdock’s sportsmanship to thank, in part.
“When I’m training with my teammates, I always tell them to work harder, to push harder,” said Murdock. “When I’m on the field, I always try to tell them to relax and not argue with the ref. I was dedicated to the team this year as much as I could be.”
Thanks Go to the Head Coach
Early on in the year, Head Coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi named John the team’s captain, a move John credits for his success.
“It gave me a lot of confidence and let me know where the coach was with me,” John said. “The biggest problem I’d had at previous colleges was the player-coach relationship. I felt that my relationship with coach Kenichi was a lot better and that gave me more confidence and propelled me forward.”
But it wasn’t only John that saw success — Kenichi’s style of coaching boosted the entire team forward.
“Nothing’s spared. He helps you in so many ways: administration, academics, your game. And he doesn’t take second best. He wants the best and doesn’t accept any half jobs,” John said.
Kenichi “is like a father to me,” Zampaligre said.
“Since I came to BMCC, he’s been advising me a lot, calling me from work, from home saying ‘Guebrina you need to do this, you need to do that,'” he said. “This year, he’s been calling coaches from different schools to come watch me play. I give him a lot of credit,” he said.
A Fitting Farewell
The three are a microcosm of life at BMCC: None were born in the U.S., all arriving here within the past five years. Panama-born Murdock arrived here in 2002. Zampaligre came from Ghana just two years ago, at about the same time John made the journey from South Africa to Texas to begin college.
But they’ll all be leaving in the spring. Zampaligre will wrap up his business administration studies, while Murdock will graduate with a science degree. John leaves BMCC after just two semesters — he completed his other schooling between colleges in Texas and California. All will move to four-year schools and will look to continue playing soccer.
For them, it was a season that went by too fast.
“We had a lot of fun this season,” said Murdock. “The chemistry was really perfect. In preseason, I wasn’t sure how strong the team was, but everything changed as time passed. By the time the CUNYAC championship came … everybody was ready.”
And it showed: BMCC beat Kingsborough Community College 3-0, a fitting way for these three scholar-athletes to go out — on top.