by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
For Kansas City Kansas Community College soccer star Guilherme Grave, the highlight of his two-year career was not winning the Plains District championship; nor qualifying for the NJCAA national tournament for the first time in KCKCC history; not even earning a full scholarship to Oklahoma City University.
Simply put, the highlights were the things that America, Kansas City and KCKCC had to offer a Brazilian youth who grew up in Sao Paulo.
“It was the best two years of my life,” Grave said. “I learned a new language, went to different places and host cities. I went to Arrowhead Stadium to watch a Chiefs game, KC Sporting games, Royals games and KU games. It was the whole experience, more than just soccer.”
Grave learned English through KCKCC’s English as a Second Language program.
“When I first came, it was hard talking to coach; I knew a few words but that’s all,” he said.
A two-time All-Jayhawk Conference and All-Region selection, Grave has signed to play next fall at Oklahoma City University, an NAIA Division I university.
“Extremely proud of him,” KCKCC head coach Ruben Rodriguez said. “Guilherme is a very skillful athlete who can play any position. A hard-working young man, he has a great academic record. I wish him all the best in life.”
Grave earned post-season honors as a midfielder in his freshmen season, helping the Blue Devils finish 10-4. He moved to forward as a sophomore as the Blue Devils (11-5-1) won the Jayhawk Conference and the Plains District championships on the way to qualifying for the NJCAA Division I national tournament for the first time ever.
The highlight was a 1-0 overtime win over No. 7 ranked Cloud County in Concordia for the Jayhawk championship, a game in which Grave suffered a broken nose early and was unable to return to play.
“That impacted the game because we were without an experienced forward and disrupted the flow but the defense really stepped up,” Rodriguez said.
“That was the best game of the season,” Grave said. “Cloud was the best team we played all season, even in the nationals. The field was terrible and they had a lot of people supporting them, a really hard game. Every one of our players played so well, every single one stepped up and played for each other.”
At 6-2 one of the biggest Blue Devils, Grave is expected to use his skills to play forward at Oklahoma City.
“I’m not fast so thinking is everything for me,” he said. “People like my techniques and my awareness. Every single moment I’m thinking about the right position on the field and what I’m supposed to do if I get the ball.”
Grave does not plan to be a stranger to KCKCC.
“I will come back and see some games,” he said.