There are very few college students in America who can say they’re originally from Guinea, West Africa. However, Emmanuel Smith has a story that is far different from that of your average, everyday college student.
Moving to America when he was only 18 years old, Smith made an extreme change to his life. He went to Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire to finish his final years of high school. He quickly found a place on Concord High’s Men’s Soccer Team, playing the sport that he loved.
Around that same time, Rick Scott, the Head Coach of Keene State College’s Men’s Soccer Team, took a trip to Concord High School to scout their men’s soccer team for potential recruits. He already knew about a handful of players on Concord High’s team going into his scouting excursion, so he knew which players to watch. However, Coach Scott recalls there being one player, whom he did not yet know, who clearly outperformed the rest and quickly caught his eye.
That player was Emmanuel Smith.
“I saw him play when he was 18,” said Coach Scott. “He had just arrived in the country and was playing left back for Concord High. I remember seeing him play and I thought, wow. This kid is a special player.”
Coach Scott knew immediately that he had to make a connection with Smith.
“It was an interesting recruiting experience. He didn’t speak English at the time,” Coach Scott said.
Despite that issue, Smith began to learn the language, and he and Coach Scott began to form a solid relationship soon after they met. However, after graduating high school, the path Smith was on didn’t lead to Keene State right away.
“I went to New England College for a semester,” Smith said. “I didn’t like it there, and so then I went to community college in Concord.”
But college in Concord didn’t feel right for Smith either. He began rethinking his college decision once again. Luckily for Smith, Coach Scott was able to help point him in the right direction.
“Coach was talking to me for a while,” Smith said. “He said that I should come play for him, so I finally came here.”
Now, in his second year at Keene State, Smith couldn’t be happier with his decision.
“I really like Keene. I like the school, I like the people,” said Smith. “There are really good people here; they are always there for me and always help me.”
Furthermore, Smith is now in his second year with the Keene State Men’s Soccer Team and he seemingly can’t get any better. Through five games this season, Smith leads the team in all statistical categories. He’s scored a team-leading five goals, along with three assists, 19 shots on goal and 13 points contributed to, which all lead the team as well.
“I really like the men’s soccer team,” Smith said. “I like my teammates. We are all very close. We work together and whether we win or not, we take it as a team. We go down as a team and share everything as a team.”
One of those teammates already has a long history with Smith. Yusufu Juma, a junior on the team, used to play soccer against Smith back in high school.
“We actually met five years ago,” Juma said. “We always played against each other. Playing against him is hard. He’s a very good player, he’s very competitive. But it makes me better, so I like playing against him.”
Since becoming teammates, Juma and Smith have formed an inseparable bond, even though they weren’t close friends the first four years they knew each other.
“We’ve never been as close as when we met here,” Juma said. “We live together, we have like three classes together. On away games we sit on the bus together, we eat together. We literally spend most of our time together.”
“We’re like brothers,” Smith said. “We share everything.”
After years of switching colleges, moving from place to place and searching for happiness, Smith can finally say he is now in the perfect situation studying at Keene State College and playing as one of the top stars on the men’s soccer team. But Smith still has a few goals left on his mind.
“This year I can see we have a good team,” Smith said. “I know and I hope that we can win the championship this year.”
Matt Holderman can be contacted