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Returning for a Championship

October 23, 2006
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty Senior Defender Osei Telesford

Liberty Senior Defender Osei Telesford

Putting his dreams of playing professional soccer on hold for another year, senior defender Osei Telesford decided this past spring to return to the Liberty men's soccer team for his final season of eligibility in hopes of winning the team's first-ever Big South Championship.

"I owe it to Coach [Jeff] Alder to come back this year," stated the defender. "He's been like a father figure to me and to all of the other foreign players on the team."

After high school, Telesford, a native of San Juan, Trinidad, played semi-pro soccer and elected to turn down a professional contract to explore his options in the United State. He decided to visit his long-time friend and now current teammate Darryl Roberts, who was in high school in the States at the time.

While visiting, Telesford played in a few of Roberts' club soccer games and before long, he was being recruited by top Division I teams such as Wake Forest and South Florida. Wanting to be with his friend Roberts, who had committed to sign with the Flames, Telesford decided to attend Liberty as well.

"I spoke with Coach Alder and thought it would be something completely different, both athletically and spiritually," he recalled. "Liberty was the only Christian school that was recruiting me and I wanted to try something different."

The defender will admit that coming to Liberty from the Caribbean was a big culture change, especially dealing with the rules and some of the different beliefs.

"Now that I have settled in after living here for four-and-a-half years, I have definitely grown as a man. Being around so many good people has made this a great experience for me here at Liberty."

Telesford has played under Alder since 2003 and appreciates the concern the head coach shows for him, both as a soccer player and as a person.

"Coming from a foreign country, Coach has always been there to help me any time that I needed him, and when I mess up, he will let me know immediately because he expects the best from me," stated Telesford. "Coach has been good to the foreign players. We are so far away from home, and have no family here in America so he has always taken care of us."

Since joining the Big South Conference, Liberty has never won a men's soccer championship which is a fact Telesford would like to change.

"I could have decided to go professional, but I wanted to wait another year and try to win the first championship for Coach," Telesford said. "I owe it to him for what he's done for me."

Last summer, the defender got a taste of what it's like to be a professional soccer player, as he played with the Carolina Dynamo in the Premier Development League (PDL).

"The PDL is a league for college soccer players around the country to participate in a professional environment, but still keep their eligibility," explained Telesford. "The Dynamo selected top players from the states of North Carolina and Virginia, so all of the players were all-conference. It was a great experience because I was able to learn from other schools and see where Liberty's athletes ranked among the nation's best."

"Individually, Liberty has the players to play at any level; we just have to play as a team," continued the senior. "I have played with athletes from winning programs, like Wake Forest and North Carolina. Liberty has the talent; we just have to come together as a team and realize that we can compete with the top teams in the country."

As the leader of the Dynamo, Telesford appeared in 12 games as a defender and scored a goal in the team's undefeated season. He anchored a defensive unit which allowed the third-fewest goals in the league and for his efforts, was recognized as the PDL's Defender of the Year.

"I have always been a leader," recalled Telesford, "but here at Liberty the main leader of our team is [goalkeeper] Kevin Mahan. I look up to him, but on the field I am very vocal and lead with my actions."

In his three-year career with the Flames, Telesford has been named to the Big South all-conference and all-tournament teams. He was also included on the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) South Atlantic Region first team and the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association (VaSID) All-State second team, while serving as captain of the Liberty men's soccer team.

"God gave me the ability to play, and I just go out and play the game. I credit those awards to the team," reflected the senior. "My job as a defender is to defend and I am going to do my job the best that I can and help the team get where we need to go. Along the way I have won some awards, but it's a team sport and I have to win my battles and do my job to help the team."

By Khalil Reed
Liberty University Athletic Media Relations Student Assistant