| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Baldwin grad named PAC player of year

Photo | Courtesy of Martin Santek Photography
Baldwin grad Arkangelo James was honored to be named Presidents' Athletic Conference men's soccer player of the year. He is a junior forward at Bethany College.

College Football Videos

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Ever since he began his college career, Arkangelo James has been one of the top soccer players not only on the Bethany College men's team, but also in the NCAA Division III Presidents' Athletic Conference.

Now he has the hardware to prove it.

James, a junior forward and Baldwin High School graduate, was named the PAC's Men's Soccer Player of the Year, as voted on by conference coaches.

“It was a surprise to me. It was a great honor to get that, even though we were having a bad season and our team didn't make it to the playoffs,” said James, showing his team-first mentality as he discussed the Bison's 5-12-1 overall record this year.

Bethany head head coach Sean Regan said the local product was more than deserving of the honor.

“Ark had a fantastic year,” Regan said. “He's always been one of the top players in the conference since his freshman year.

“This year, he put in a lot of extra time and effort with summer conditioning and training, working hard on his technique.”

James turned in impressive performances from the first time he stepped on the field at Bethany.

As a freshman in 2010, the local athlete generated 43 points on 18 goals and seven assists, and earned first-team All-PAC honors.

Last year as a sophomore, he turned in another impressive campaign with 28 points on 12 goals and four assists, and again was an all-conference selection.

This season, it was a third straight standout performance as James netted 41 points on 18 goals and five assists, and reeled in all-conference honors once again.

More than just eye-opening statistics, though, was that James transitioned into a more complete soccer player this year.

He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, where soccer is much more of a mainstream sport. He began playing soccer at age 6, and continued to excel when his family moved to Baldwin five years later.

During high school and the early part of his collegiate career, James relied on natural talent and athletic ability to carry him.

“He's always been a fantastic athlete,” Regan said. “This year, he put the work in to become a better all-around player.”

It's not just on the soccer field where James has evolved.

By his own admission, he did not approach academics properly when he first arrived at Bethany.

“My academics are much better than when I first got here,” said James, a physical education major. “In high school, sports were my first priority. It can't be that way here; this is determining my future.

“I have to work on my education first, and sports come after.”

Regan said he and the Bethany coaching staff are even more impressed with James' academic turnaround than his soccer excellence.

“As a student-athlete, he's turned it around big time,” said the coach. “He didn't prioritize education very much at all, and throughout high school, he had his struggles.

“His first year (at Bethany), we had to teach him soccer wasn't the main thing. We had to get him to get through it academically. It took him a year or so, and as soon as he understood that, he went to extra study sessions and things like that, and it turned around big-time.

“Now he's on pace to be the first person from his family to graduate.”

Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Police officer reported wounded in New Florence; suspect at-large
  2. Thomas Jefferson uses defense, running game to capture WPIAL title
  3. Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
  4. Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
  5. Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
  6. WPIAL Class AAA notes: Title games draw 16,500 to Heinz Field
  7. Funding highway bill atop Rep. Shuster’s agenda
  8. Steelers find success vs. NFC
  9. Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
  10. Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
  11. Robert Morris defeats Mississippi Valley State for 1st victory of season