Ofosu Takes Fast Track To UMass
Oct. 7, 2005
It was Robert Frost who wrote that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference. That's just the road freshman Prince Ofosu took to play on the Massachusetts men's soccer team.
Ofosu was born in Ghana, a small country on the west coast of Africa. Off the soccer field he's very soft-spoken and reserved. When he laces those cleats up, however, it seems like he turns into a whole different person. He's constantly going after the ball and always frustrating defenders with his tenacity and quick feet.
In 1999, when Prince was 12-years-old, his parents moved him and his family to Worcester. Ofosu says the transition from Africa to the United States didn't bother him.
"It wasn't bad," he said. "I got used to it."
He then attended South High Community School in Worcester where he excelled in track and field as well as soccer. When you see him on the soccer field, it's no wonder he was a track star in high school.
His lightning-quick speed puts him at an advantage over just about everybody who tries to cover him. UMass coach Sam Koch says it's definitely one of his main strengths.
"He's faster than I am," Koch joked. "And that's really fast."
While at South High, Ofosu was named to the Central Massachusetts All-Star team as a junior and as a senior. He was also named to the All New England squad. Be it that he's a Division I soccer player, you'd probably think he gained these achievements by scoring goals on the soccer field. But he didn't.
He was actually named a track All-Star and was on the All New England Squad for track, not soccer. Fast is an understatement. He has posted times of 10.8 seconds and 22.3 seconds in the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes, respectively.
Those ridiculous numbers have the makings of another Michael Johnson (the U.S. sprinter who won two gold medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 2000 games in Sydney). To give you some perspective as to just how fast Ofosu is, Johnson's career best in the 200m is 19.32 seconds. That's just three seconds faster than Ofosu's, and he was in high school.
You could say he's faster than a speeding bullet.
After he graduated from South High, it was a dream of Ofosu's to attend UMass.
"I wanted to come here since my sophomore year in high school," he said. "I had seen [the soccer team] play a couple of times and I have a lot of friends out here."
Getting into UMass seemed to be the easy part for Ofosu. Getting in touch with Koch was a whole lot harder.
Koch went to go see Ofosu play a couple of times, impressed by his blazing speed and potential, he expressed interest in having Prince on the soccer team. However, every time Ofosu called Koch he failed to leave any contact information.
"I saw him play and we just kept missing each other," Koch said. "He never left a number, never really left a way for me to get back to him."
"I just didn't think he was really interested in coming here," Koch said, laughing.
Prince also recalls the miscommunications between himself and Koch.
"I didn't talk to coach until the week or two before preseason," he said.
Koch recalls finally getting in touch with Ofosu when the incoming freshman called him and said he had just come from orientation and wanted to try out for the soccer team.
"I came to one of [the soccer team's] camps and coach invited me to preseason," Ofosu said of finally getting his shot to make the team.
"We just didn't make connections," Koch said. "We didn't put two and two together; just a comedy of errors. It all ended up in a good way. We're all happy he's here."
The walk-on wasted little time in impressing the Minutemen coaches. Koch says that in the first five days of preseason he had a feeling Ofosu was going to contribute to his team.
"We knew he was going to help us," Koch said. "Did we think he was going to start a couple of games at this point in the season? No, but after the first five days of the preseason I'm not surprised."
Ofosu also expressed how coming into the season he didn't expect to be where he is right now.
"Before the season I didn't think I was going to play that much," he said. "I thought I was going to be giving Oral [Bullen] a rest for like five minutes in a game."
He earned the starting spot in the line up following Bullen's ankle injury at Hartford.
"We didn't think he'd help us this fast this much," Koch said. "But again, like I said, we're not surprised. It's one of those things where you've got to have opportunities. A couple of guys have been injured up top so he's had the opportunities and he's done very well with the opportunities he's had."
In all he has started five games for the Minutemen, including the past few alongside Bullen, whom Ofosu says he looks up to on the team.
"He's the captain and the same position," Ofosu said. "I look at whatever he does and all the positive things [he does]."
At the halfway point of the 2005 season, Ofosu has proven to be one of the Minutemen's top players. He leads the team with five assists and ranks fourth in points with five. His ability to find the open man has really shown this season.
"I was always a midfielder in high school," Ofosu explained. "I was always the one giving the passes, not the one scoring."
Although he has yet to record his first collegiate goal, rest assured it is bound to happen. Koch believes it will come with some work.
"His finishing is not his strength and he'll be the first to admit that. Just when he gets into the 18-yard box just having that final nose for the goal is something we need to work on," Koch said. "But he's dangerous - flat-out dangerous. His ability to pass the ball has been very good and we're really pleased with that."
Ofosu hopes to help UMass kick its Atlantic 10 conference schedule off on the right foot this Sunday when Rhode Island travels to Amherst to the take on the Minutemen at Rudd Field.
Remember the next time you see that Maroon blur streaking up the soccer field; it isn't Superman wearing a UMass uniform. It's just the Prince of UMass.