by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College has its first soccer All-American with the naming of Hiago Gaspar to the NJCAA second team.
A freshman forward from San Paulo, Brazil, Hiago led the Jayhawk Conference with a Blue Devil record 17 goals and was second in assists in the conference with 11. He was named to both the All-Jayhawk and All-Region VI first teams.
Led by Gaspar and six other all-conference honorees, the Blue Devils compiled one of their best records in history – 10 wins, 4 losses and a second place finish in the Jayhawk.
“A natural talent, a natural scorer,” KCKCC head coach Ruben Rodriguez said of Gaspar. “He’s usually in the right place a lot and you can’t teach that. He’s also very technical, very good on and off the ball with a high soccer IQ.”
Assistant coach Burke Slusher agreed.
“Great speed, probably in the 4.4 range and very calm under pressure. Good in the air and reads the game very well,” Slusher said.
Rodriguez has been equally impressed by Gaspar’s progress academically. When he arrived at KCKCC this past summer, he knew no English. Now he speaks it well enough to graduate from ESOL classes into regular classroom curriculums.
Gaspar’s talents have not gone unnoticed.
“I’ve already been contacted by some Division I schools and all the local NAIA schools,” Rodriguez said. “His 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.”
Joining Gaspar on the All-Jayhawk first team were defend Ricardo Angelo and midfielder Guilherme Grave, both of Sao Paulo; while second team selections included sophomore forward Thiago Elias, also of Sao Paulo; sophomore midfielders Giovanni Calderon of Harmon and Tanner Helms of Ashland, Mo.; and sophomore defender Jake Salmons, also of Ashland, Mo.