Since leaving his home country of Honduras at fourteen, Mercer student, Kelvin Flores has faced a series of challenges. To overcome them he has relied on three things, as his cousin, Felix Baquedano explains: “work, soccer and school. The kid [does] nothing else.”
Flores says the language barrier was his first major test: “People made fun of me a lot.” But after two years at Hightstown high school he says he says his language skills has improved and things got a little easier.
Flores was recruited to Mercer’s men’s soccer team and arrived at the college with a 3.4 GPA.
“Once he touched the ball I knew he was a good player,” says Mercer men’s soccer team head Coach Widmarc Dalce. Dalce, who has known Flores for six years, explains that the transition from high school to a collegiate sport was not easy for Flores.
In high school Flores, a 3-year starting varsity veteran in his senior year, led his high school team to the state semi-finals, with 11 goals and a handful of assists. Losing to a last minute goal in a heated match, Flores says made him want to push himself to excel on the field at Mercer.
Coach Dalce says, “When he came to Mercer after Hightstown, after being a 2010 MVP, the first month he struggled…he was lost…he got frustrated.”
On his new team, Flores was no longer was the best.
“I thought he was going to quit but he never quit,” says coach Dalce.
Flores pushed through the growing pains and by the end of the 2011 season he was able to once again, transform himself into something more; he became the second best player in the region.
His effort on the field was matched with effort in the classroom. In the words of his former English professor Dr. Edward Carmien, “In my 5 years teaching, he is the only one I have ever asked to come back and speak to the students.”
Flores says his passion for soccer has been his way to connect with people around him. “The only thing I knew was soccer, it gave me confidence, and helped me make friends.”
Already recruited by Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, Flores hopes to transition well into their style of play and hopefully this time around raise a trophy high above his head.