The third time is a charm for the Richland soccer program. Men’s coach Sean Worley won the National Junior College Coach of the Year Award for the third time in his tenure at Richland. James Sesay won the Junior College National Player of the Year, making him the third player in Richland’s history to win the award at the United Soccer Coaches convention in Chicago Jan. 12.
The Richland Thunderducks remain the only college in National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Div. III history to win the national championship in both men and women’s competition. They’ve achieved that feat in 2004, 2006 and 2018.
The men’s team, under the tutelage of Worley and the mercilessness of Sesay capped a sensational season with a 6-1 blowout of Nassau Lions in the finals last year Nov.
Sesay etched his name in Richland history alongside Jesus Rodriguez (2002) and Mikkel Rohde (2016) as the only players to win the Junior College National Player of the Year. Sesay finished as the top goal scorer for the Thunderducks last season with 28 goals and a total of 52 goals in his two years at Richland. He led the team to two national finals and one national championship.
“I feel good. It’s a dream come true to be able to win an award like that. It’s a memorable award that I would never forget about,” Sesay said.
Worley described Sesay as an extraordinary player and believes Sesay can make a mark in the next stage of his soccer career as a college or professional player.
“He [Sesay] is a player that leads by example. He always has a positive attitude. And in good and bad times he is always positive,” Worley said. “He encourages everyone to do their best, he’s a natural team leader and he’s a genuinely a good person. He has a heart of gold and it’s a wonderful experience having to coach him for two years,”
Worley has been the coach at Richland since the fall of 1994. He won led Richland to its first national championship in 2002 and 2003. He garnered national attention, and this earned him successive national junior college coach of the year awards in those years.
Worley led Richland to further national glory in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2016 and most recently, in 2018. He contributes this win to the superiority and relentlessness the team.
“Our team in 2018 was dominant. Everyone who watched us, and looked at our scores, and watched us play were impressed. We had clearly the best team in the country,” Worley said. “This was one of the top teams I’ve coached at Richland college in my 23 years here.”
Worley hopes to replicate the fortunes of the last season, but for the moment he is isn’t looking too far into the future.