Jesse Banda didn’t want to stop playing soccer so he did what anyone like him would do: Found a place to play.
The Goose Creek Memorial graduate was hoping that his time playing the sport didn’t end with the memory of Class 5A Region 3 semifinal appearance with the Patriots.
He wanted more and on Monday he signed with Bryant and Stratton College of Albany to help their new program get off the ground.
Bryant and Stratton is a United States Collegiate Athletic Association member.
“It was a full ride,” Banda said. “They gave me the most money and don’t have to pay anything. I also went there because the coach is a really good guy. He called me himself and told me he wanted me.
“The environment at that school was really nice, everyone talked to you. It’s a small school and they treat you like family.”
The first-year program is headed by Joseph Tibbs.
“They found me; I hadn’t heard of the college or anything,” Banda said. “I was sitting at a graduation party for my friend and he called me and talked to me about the program.”
Banda’s scholarship is a combination of athletic and academic money.
He originally was planning to go to ‘good ole, Lee,” for college.
He had other soccer opportunities prior to this one, but the finances didn’t add up.
“I am extremely grateful that Coach Tibbs came to me and gave me the opportunity,” Banda said. “I am grateful that my high school coach gave me the exposure and made me the player that I am.”
William Freeman, the GCM head coach enjoyed his time coaching Banda.
“Jesse was a great player to have,” Freeman said. “He began stepping up his junior year playing in some big games. Jesse grew physically and his soccer IQ really advanced with his four seasons in the program.
“Jesse really committed himself to the program and it is nice to see him get rewarded for his hard work. He will do great things in the next chapter of his playing career.”
A right back and a outside midfielder for GCM, Banda will be playing the same style of an attack-oriented approach with the Bobcats that he did in high school.”
He is ready for the change, seeing some similarities between home and there, even if he may not be quite ready for the occasional brutal cold spells.
“Albany is kind of like Baytown,” Banda said. “It’s about an hour or two from New York City, but it’s quiet and you can actually drive on the roads. They have some really good Italian food and pizza shops there.”