Known to his friends as “Gogo,” Emmanuelle Kollie moved to Philadelphia from Liberia at the age of 13, and started playing soccer at Starfinder soon after. He graduated from Father Judge High School in 2010, and recently transferred into Syracuse University. He’s majoring in Child and Family Studies and wants to be a coach.
What brought you in to Starfinder?
One of my teammates told Tony Williams [Starfinder’s founder] about me, so I went to meet him, and he told me I was welcome to come play. And then, it was like I was living there. I went there every day to play and do my schoolwork. It was a really big deal. I had a lot of opportunity to get stuff done, and when I started thinking about college, I applied using their facilities.
What’s one great memory of something that happened while you were at Starfinder?
One of the best experiences I had there was getting to work with the younger group. The kids who were out there really looked up to you, so you had to be on your best behavior and be a role model. I really had to part with every negative activity I was doing, and all the negative company I was keeping, because I knew these kids were holding me as an example.
What positive effects has Starfinder had on your life?
Most kids, when they hit 16 or 17, they face a lot of peer pressure. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I lived in a bad neighborhood. But Starfinder wasn’t in the neighborhood, so I couldn’t get into any of the stuff that was going on near my house. If it wasn’t for Starfinder, I don’t know, something bad might have happened. But instead, I was playing every day after school and not getting back home until late.
Also, Tony Williams spoke to a guy at Father Judge about me, and I ended up getting in. He really opened the gateway for me there. Starfinder opened a lot of doors for me. And that’s what Starfinder is about- whatever help you need, in terms of soccer or education.
How is college different than high school?
It takes a lot of time management. It’s class, then homework, then meeting with a professor, then going to your activities, and finding time for all of it. I’ve had to work really hard to learn how to do this, and how not to procrastinate. But it’s a positive environment for me. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be able to focus on school and soccer.
Do you have any advice for kids currently at Starfinder?
A lot of kids go there mostly because they don’t want to be at home, but they really have a lot of opportunities at Starfinder, and they need to make the most of it. Every time I didn’t take advantage of an opportunity I had there, I regret.