Four years ago, Solomon Katumbi had no idea what a state championship was.
“I thought it was just a dream. I couldn’t believe it. My mom was like, ‘Solomon this day we’re moving. We are going to the U.S.’ I was like, ‘Mom, you’re kidding,’ because I couldn’t believe it.”
When Solomon moved from Uganda and walked into his first day at Ferris High, he didn’t know a single word of English.
“At the time I didn’t even think about soccer, like honestly I didn’t,” reflected Solomon.
Four years and learning an entirely new language later, Solomon finished the regular season this year tied as the top goal scorer in the GSL.
“He’s our street baller,” said his head coach Robin Crain. “He doesn’t play on any club teams or any organized soccer, so he does stuff on the field that’s like, ‘Whoa, how’d he do that.’”
“He awes a lot of people. It’s pretty incredible,” said Solomon’s teammate Leo Cox. “He’s got all sorts of foot skills that no one really has here.”
The journey though was never simple.
Solomon needed lots of encouragement along the way.
He found that on the Ferris soccer team.
“I couldn’t speak to my teammates so I was always quiet. I couldn’t talk to anybody. Now I feel confident because they showed me love. They showed me that I’m really in, that I’m part of the team. That really made me love the team and continue playing.”
There’s no doubt that Solomon has embraced being a part of his squad.
“Back in Africa, it’s way different from this. Sometimes there are misunderstandings and we get into fights. Here we are playing as a team. Playing as a team is the reason why we are moving forward. We win as a team, and if we are losing, we lose as a team.”
But this weekend he plans on only winning, and what would winning a state championship mean to him?
“Wow. That would mean a lot. It means the world to me. It would show me how hard work is paying off. I’m still speechless. I haven’t believed that I’m graduating from high school or that we’re winning a championship or anything. I haven’t believed it yet.”