By Kevin Saxe
Sajan Harvey, No. 8 in white receives a pass on the end line. Between him and the goal stands multiple defenders clad in Coast Guard’s customary blue and orange. In an instant he’s worked his way around multiple defenders and passes to fellow freshman Will Lawson who buries the goal for each player’s first collegiate point. In just the Springfield College men’s soccer team’s second home game, it was one of the first of what could be many sensational moments for Harvey on the turf that adorns Brock Affleck Field.
Eight hundred and one miles. The distance Sajan Harvey is from home when on Alden Street. However, Harvey can’t just get in a car and drive the whole distance. No, this trip would require more than just transportation in a car. His trip home would also require a plane over the Atlantic Ocean to get to his home in Warwick, Bermuda. However, going to college in America is not his first rodeo of being in school overseas.
“I was fourteen when I came to the U.S. for my freshman year of high school.”
Harvey took a chance when he was fourteen and decided to go St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Despite going to a new country, Harvey admits that the transition was not all that daunting in part due to another family member at St. Johnsbury.
“The adjustment wasn’t that hard. My cousin went the year before me and he came back and started talking about the school and that got me excited. I convinced my parents that I should go.”
Before Harvey would ever set foot on the campus of Springfield College, he would have a connection to Alden Street. That connection was his high school soccer coach Stephen Levesque who, himself, is a Springfield College graduate. Levesque, who obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degree at Springfield, talked about Harvey as someone who really blossomed in his time at St. Johnsbury.
“Sajan grew socially, academically and athletically during his four years at the Academy. He came in as a quiet freshman and graduated a confident adult. He made many friends, constantly landed on the honor roll, and became a force on the soccer field. He takes soccer and academics very seriously. Above all, he is a competitor and possesses a strong work ethic.”
Even though Harvey is currently a member of the men’s soccer team here at Springfield, he wasn’t always considering a collegiate career. Anyone who has seen him play consistently will notice that one of his best attributes is the speed he possesses. That speed had Harvey thinking about potentially running track in college, but in the end it came down to what sport he enjoyed playing more.
“To be honest I wasn’t thinking about playing soccer in college, I was thinking about running track. I just had so much fun with soccer and I was kind of good so I decided to play soccer instead.”
For Levesque, who was not only a student at Springfield College but also a member of the soccer team on Alden Street, there was a certain point where he knew that Harvey had the tools to become a college soccer player.
“There were moment’s sophomore year when I thought he could play at the next level, but it wasn’t until midway through his junior year when I moved him into an attacking position when I realized he was a special talent. His speed and technique made him virtually un-markable in the state,” he said.
As Harvey’s passion for the game of soccer grew, so too did the increasing likelihood that he could play college soccer. As he started looking at schools the list included Springfield, Western New England, University of Tampa and some schools in Canada. Levesque, like so many others who love SC as their alma mater, saw Springfield as a community where Harvey could thrive.
“I went to SC for my undergrad and grad and loved the school. I had a good soccer experience there. I felt Sajan would thrive in the SC community,” Levesque said.
Not only did Levesque talk up the school, but Harvey and his parents were impressed with the school and the facilities when they visited. Harvey, who once considered a collegiate career in track,was now not only visiting schools, but being recruited. For Harvey, who had an interest in Springfield, the feeling was mutual with head coach Tommy Crabill.
“It’s hard to recruit speed, so when you see people who are that fast you put a value on that. He was a really dangerous attacker for his high school team. He is a quick learner and he’s really dangerous. We saw things in his high school games that we knew he could do at our level that we would need him to try to do his freshman year and he’s done really well.”
For any first year student-athlete regardless of the sport, there is typically some sort of adjustment period adjusting to the college game. Add onto the fact of being a first year student on a team that consists of nearly two-thirds first year students, and it is a situation that is not necessarily easy. Despite being on a team with so much unproven talent, at this level Harvey has done enough to earn the trust to be playing consistent minutes for Coach Crabill.
Harvey attributes that to “playing the same way I played in high school and trusting my ability to show the coaches I deserve to play.”
For Harvey and the way he plays, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by Crabill who has seen him sticking to what he does best in his game even when the games have gotten tough.
“When the game gets tough he plays to his strengths which is getting behind on the dribble, changing pace, running past people, being patient in defending. I think the way he plays to his strengths has really helped him build his confidence.”
Rewind back to Sept. 21 against Coast Guard. The Pride would hold on to defeat the Bears 2-1, with Harvey having a highlight reel assist on what would hold up as the game-winning goal for the Pride. Despite their record only being 2-4 since that game, Harvey feels the team has started to play better as of late.
“We’re all adjusting and I think we’re coming together nicely. I feel like we’re starting to become closer as a team. I’ve noticed we’re playing better soccer.”
For the Pride, they have just three games remaining, including two crucial conference matchups this Saturday, Oct. 26 against WPI, and Nov. 2 against Wheaton. In between will be the Pride’s final home game of the season on Tuesday Oct. 29, against non-conference opponent UMass Boston.
Photo courtesy of Jack Margaros