I journeyed on every road, and even more, far beyond this… I accomplished it, I accomplished it according to my own path.
The lyrics of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, released in 1969, echoed through the loudspeakers at Southern Durham High School.
The crowd surrounding the stadium hummed along to the music as the Spartans danced. Tears of joy filled their eyes as they embraced each other and captured the moment on their phones.
In the center stood the man, Foster Kyei, who had achieved success by following his own methods. He had been the head coach for the boys soccer team for nine years and was responsible for leading them to victory over Carrboro, securing the school’s first-ever conference championship in the regular season.
Carrboro’s 1-0 victory put an end to their 11-year streak of dominating the conference and securing at least a share of the conference crown.
The program’s three seniors were sent off into the postseason with great admiration, as they were considered legendary. Dan Sevalie-Gborie, a senior captain on the team, appropriately scored the only goal of the game just six minutes into the match.
There were moments when I may have taken on more than I could handle, which you probably were aware of. However, regardless of any uncertainty, I persevered and remained upright. I accomplished things in my own unique way.
Sevalie-Gborie entered the program during his second year of school. He started off as the team’s goalkeeper and received recognition as an All-Conference player last year. He later transitioned into a versatile defender for the Spartans.
His debut season followed a spring without any wins in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions on soccer throughout the state.
It is truly amazing to be a senior with a record of 17 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties on his home field.
However, Kyei was aware the entire time. He assumed control of the program in 2015, following a stretch of only 15 wins in the past three seasons.
In his second year, he led the team to a record of 9 wins, 9 losses, and 3 ties. If you were to ask him at that time, he was aware that there was still much work to be done.
According to the record, I withstood the challenges and achieved success in my own way.
If the team’s resilient leader had retired following a disappointing 2-16-1 season in 2018, the miraculous events of Monday night would have only existed in fantasy.
The Spartans only managed to score a total of 19 goals throughout the entire season. However, two years later, they experienced a winless year due to COVID.
Suddenly, there was a shift in the events.
In the year 2021, Southern Durham’s record improved from a total of 11 wins in the past three seasons to 11 wins, 5 losses, and 2 ties. The following year, their record increased to 16 wins and 7 losses, including a surprise playoff victory against Currituck County on their opponent’s home field.
At the senior night event on Monday, multiple players mentioned that their most cherished memory thus far was the postseason win.
In 2022, the Jaguars suffered a devastating 3-2 defeat to Carrboro in overtime. Leading up to their initial matchup, the Jaguars had won 56 consecutive conference games. However, Southern dominated with a 3-0 win and maintained their momentum throughout the season.
This season, their record for entering the playoffs is 17-2-2, including a 13-0-1 record in the Northern Lakes Athletic Conference. The team has defeated strong competitors such as Wakefield and the historically dominant Jordan.
“I have experienced love, laughter, and tears. I have also faced my fair share of losing. But as the tears fade away, I find it all rather amusing.”
As Sevalie-Gborie torpedoed through a scrum to head-in a sixth minute free kick, the home side erupted.
The Southern Durham community filled the Spartan Stadium bleachers in anticipation of witnessing a historic event.
The stands swayed to the beat of the school’s marching band. The field was filled with cheerleaders, motivating the team’s defense to make pivotal stops on Carrboro’s corner kicks during the first half.
Chants of “vamos, rojo!” and “viva Spartans!” leaked out from one side, while iconic battle quotes from the movie “300” were shouted from the other.
On Monday evening, there was a diverse gathering that went beyond just the game. It was a tale of a school, its members, and their goal to provide an opportunity that was previously only a dream for many years.
As they entered the field and danced in joy, one could argue that they “did it their own way.”