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Adieu Shelton Stewart

By Ian Guss

Section: Sports

November 11, 2005

After playing for the Brandeis Judges for four years and receiving many accolades, Stewart says he still realizes what is most important. While most star soccer players would have chosen to attend a Division I school with a well-known soccer program, Stewart picked Brandeis. Even though, Stewart, who was on the 1999 World Cup Under-17 Jamaica National team, always thought of soccer as his life, he still keeps the sport in perspective.

My first priority was a small school with a close-knit community, where I could make friends, get a fabulous education, and still play soccerBrandeis was a better choice than all the other schools I looked at, said the 23-year-old Stewart, who recently became the fourth mens soccer player in Brandeis history to surpass 100 career points.

Stewart grew up in Clarendon, Jamaica, about 45 minutes outside of Kingston. He started playing soccer at 4 years old with his uncle, Alpheus Beckford, a midfielder on Galaxy F.C. His high school and Jamaican national team coach, Patrick Walters, was a father figure to Stewart during his time in Jamaica.

He took me under his wing and taught me the technical aspect of the game, he said.

Stewart, who came to America by himself at the age of 14, had a tough time adjusting to American culture and living away from home. He attended a boarding school in Connecticut until coming to Brandeis.
Its a tough transition, he said. I believe the two cultures are so different. In the Caribbean its very laid back and easy going. Here in America its a little faster. You have to be on time all of the time.

The importance of a good education was a major factor in his decision to move away from his family and everything he knew.

I was able to get a great education here;

its a little tougher than it is in Jamaica, Stewart said smiling.
The sport of soccer is also a very different game in the U.S. in terms of play and popularity.

In Jamaica, you have to play a more skillful game. In America, you have to be a lot more physical, he said. Soccer is considered the number one sport in Jamaica. Even at a high school soccer game, there were 20,000 people who came to watch.

Brandeis head coach Mike Coven also contributed to Stewarts decision to attend Brandeis University. He played a big, big role in my decision to come to Brandeis because he was such a good guy and so straightforward, Stewart said.

Coven was glad he was able to influence Stewart to come to Brandeis. Hes one of the top players that Ive ever recruited here. Fortunately, he decided to come here…I think he ended up here because of the academicsI pointed out to him what an excellent school Brandeis is academically, luckily we had a pretty decent soccer program to go with it and it worked out for all of us, Coven said.

Coven has always believed that Stewart is one of the best players that he has seen in his 33 years of coaching at Brandeis. He also loves his versatility. While playing defense, midfield and forward, Stewart has scored 38 goals and tallied 26 assists for a total of 102 points. Only Jeff Steinberg (155), Cleveland Lewis (137), and Mike Novaria (123) have totaled more points at Brandeis.

The coach also praised his adaptability. He could be the greatest all around soccer player that Brandeis has ever had. He is multifaceted. He could play anywhere on the field. You can put him in the back, you can put him in the midfield, you can put him up-front as an attacking player. He can play any position.

A lot of people that weve had here that have been All Americans;

theyre not as versatile. With Shelton, he can play anywhere on the field and be equally amazing at any position, Coven said.

First-year sensation Ben Premo 09, who is currently leading the team with 10 goals, praised Stewarts play. I think hes the best player when he puts a full effort onto the field. He has a lot of skill and good vision, Premo said.

Other players on the team have also benefited from playing with Stewart. Charles Goodhue 06, Stewarts teammate and roommate, believes that Stewart is a great person and a strong leader on the field. Hes a funny guy with a great sense of humor. He would take a bullet for any of his real good friends – very loyal and fun to be around, he said. Having a lot of knowledge of the game and experience at high levels of play, he has a lot to offer if you are willing to listen. Hes not overly assertive with players unless theyre willing to learn – but is very helpful to players that want to learn more about the game.

Stewart is a calm, soft-spoken person who inspires others. He leads by example. Everybody sees his skill level and they try to emulate it. Hes picked up things hes learned playing on the Jamaican national team and hes brought that to our program, Coven said.

Stewart acknowledges that the Brandeis soccer program is relatively small, but in some ways, it is better than playing at a Division I school.

Its not the best soccer program in America. It helps you to grow because you have to go out there and compete every day. You dont have all the tools and players to be the best team in the world. It builds character when you lose with pride. When you win games, youre overjoyed because you have to play so hard to win, said Stewart.

As Stewart looks ahead to next year, he has some ideas of what he would like to pursue. At this point, I feel like I need to continue my soccer career. Wherever that will take me, I dont know, he said. I will pursue a professional contract. If that doesnt work out, with my politics major, I can find another interesting job to do. My main objective right now is to try to get a contract with an MLS team.

Coven said he believes Stewart will be a success in whatever he undertakes. The beauty of Shelton – it transcends the soccer field, he said. Hes a wonderful player, but more importantly, hes a much better person.

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