Monday, July 11, 2011

SJC's Richards heading to NJCAA Hall of Fame

By John Bechtle
San Jacinto College
(Via Press Release)

HOUSTON, TEXAS (July 11, 2011) Former San Jacinto College (SJC) star Dane Richards has been selected as a member of the class of 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Soccer Hall of Fame.

The Jamaican born Richards netted 45 goals, a school record, over the course of the 2003 and 2004 seasons at San Jacinto College. In 2004, he was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Junior College Player of the Year, scoring 25 goals while leading his team to third place at the national tournament.

“I am honored and excited to be joining the Hall of Fame,” said Richards, now a midfielder with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer (MLS). “When I came to San Jacinto College from Jamaica the summer before the 2003 season, I worked very hard to balance my school work and my playing career, and San Jac was a great place to begin my journey.

“Throughout my life, I have always tried to seize every opportunity in front of me and make the best of it, and San Jacinto College allowed me to get started in this game toward my goal of being a professional. I played for two great coaches, Ben Hunter and David Santesteban.

“To soon be a member of the NJCAA Hall of Fame is a proud moment for myself and my family. I give many thanks to those who gave me an opportunity to achieve.”

Richards was recruited to San Jacinto College by Hunter, who retired after the 2003 season. In 2004, Santesteban took over the program and discovered Richards, a true star player who scored 20 goals as a freshman. Together, Richards and Santesteban got the San Jacinto program back to the national tournament.

“When I think of Dane, I think of catching lightning in a bottle,” Santesteban said. “Every year in recruiting, you search for the next Dane Richards, and those players just don’t come around very often. Players like Dane are very hard to come by. He is truly a special player.”

After his two years at San Jacinto College, Richards moved on to Clemson University, where he led the Tigers to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I National Tournament Final Four in 2005. That season, he scored 11 goals and dealt eight assists.

Drafted by the Red Bulls in 2007, Richards has registered 17 goals and 23 assists through four plus seasons in the Big Apple. Richards has also, for several years, been a member of the Jamaican National Team. During the 2011 Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup, Richards had a pair of assists in four games for his home country.

Santesteban, who nominated Richards for the 2011 Hall of Fame class, is thrilled to see the former San Jacinto College star making a name for himself both in MLS and internationally.

“To get where Dane is, you have to be disciplined and avoid the distractions that can come with being a professional,” Santesteban said. “He has shown a great ability to do that. To know that the San Jacinto College men’s soccer program played a role in Dane’s development is a special moment. All of us are proud of who he is as a person and the type of soccer player he has become.”

Richards is one of eight players and a coach to be inducted into the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame class of 2011. The nine inductees will be honored at a banquet in November.

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