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Records Weren't Made to Be Broken
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 09/21/2005
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Courtesy: Appalachian State
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Thompson Usiyan thinks that most of his NCAA records will never be broken.

 

This articulation might seem boastful or brash, but it is quite the opposite actually, as the former Appalachian State soccer star obliges that the reasoning behind his thought process is not that he was the greatest player to ever suit up on an NCAA pitch, but rather because soccer in America has grown leaps and bounds.

 

The sport known as football in the rest of the world was not where it is today in regards to the level of play and that is why Usiyan thinks his records will stand the test of time and like it or not for those that know the game that is a good thing.

 

“To me soccer (in America) has gotten a lot better,” remarked Usiyan. “I think it (many of his records) is going to be very difficult to reach because the level of play is better.”

 

Level playing field or not back in the late 1970’s when Usiyan suited up for the Mountaineers there were still some solid players playing soccer in the United States. The NCAA’s all-time leading goal-scorer was one of them.

 

The Journey to Boone

           

The story of how Thompson Usiyan found his way to Boone, NC, is one that is worth knowing.

 

The Nigerian-born Usiyan fell in love with North America and its surroundings in 1976 when he was in the wondrous city to participate in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games for his country.

 

While Usiyan was falling in love with his surroundings, the Nigerian national team and many African and Arab countries were threatening to boycott the Montreal games due to New Zealand’s rugby team touring in South Africa.

 

The boycott stemmed from the fact that South Africa was gripped by Apartheid, meaning the white minority government segregated the black majority, denying them their political and economic rights.

 

South Africa had already been banned from the 1964 Olympics because of its thought process and the African and Arab nations were not going to stand for a country such as New Zealand to co-exist seemingly with the South African government. Thus in their minds, the Kiwis should not play.

 

This set up a showdown between the nations and the International Olympic Committee. The IOC ruled that New Zealand would participate in the Montreal Olympics just one day before the commencement.

 

Feeling betrayed, Usiyan, his teammates and 25 other countries went home and did not take part in the games.

Usiyan may have traveled back with his teammates, but it was at this point that he realized that he needed a new beginning, and more importantly, an education. What better place to start then the United States.

 

A player of his skill received a bevy of interest from American institutions. In fact, he received three scholarship offers from American schools, including Clemson, Howard and Appalachian State.

 

Usiyan decided to go with the latter because he wanted to make a name for himself at a school that he could help make a name for on the soccer field.

           

It worked.

 

Mountaineer Magnificence

           

Thompson arrived on the campus of Appalachian State in 1977. Southern Conference soccer would never be the same, as the Nigerian assaulted the SoCon and NCAA record books.

 

The man with an affinity for the back of the nets played the game brilliantly from the forward position for the Mountaineers from 1977-1980.

 

Saying that he had a knack for putting the ball between the pipes would be an understatement. Usiyan still sits in the annals of history as the best at it, at least in the NCAA.

 

Usiyan is the all-time NCAA leader in career scoring with 255 points, season scoring (180), season goals (46) and career goals (109).

 

The awe-inspiring numbers on the field of play meant nothing to Usiyan during his time at Appalachian.

 

“I just wanted to play soccer,” noted Usiyan. “I did not even know what records were.”

 

Whether he knew it or not, the rest of the soccer community took notice, particularly SoCon schools.

 

The only man to ever garner Southern Conference “Player of the Year” honors three times (1977, 79 and 80) helped the Mountaineer program earn some kudos in the NCAA ranks during his time there.

 

In SoCon play, Usiyan helped the Mountaineers to an astounding 20-0-0 mark during his four years of play for Appalachian. Overall, the program went 33-10-2 during his time there.

His coup de grace may have been a playoff victory over George Washington in the 1978 NCAA Division I playoffs.

 

Usiyan tallied a remarkable seven goals in the match to help lift the Mountaineers to victory. The inordinate amount of goals on the day left Usiyan in the NCAA record book once again, but this time he does not sit in first, as the mark places him second for most goals in a match all-time.

 

Still involved in the Beautiful Game

           

For a man such as Usiyan, soccer is and will always remain a part of his life.

           

Arguably one of the best to play in the SoCon, Usiyan furthered his career in the professional ranks for a while after his stellar Appalachian career. He played in the North American Soccer League for his beloved Montreal for three years before finishing out his outdoor career with Tulsa.

 

Usiyan then moved on to play in the Major Indoor Soccer League for the San Diego Sockers.

 

The Nigerian wonder installed his roots in the Bay City and is still living in the California city to this day.

 

Presently a tax accountant, Usiyan stays involved in the game by coaching youth soccer and local San Diego High School, Monte Vista.

 

Although still an avid supporter of all things Appalachian because of proximity to the North Carolina school, Usiyan had not been to the campus for almost 20 years until earlier this year. He attended Appalachian State’s celebration of athletics last year to honor and retire football great Dexter Coakley’s No. 32 on April 19 of 2005.

 

It was a different world for the former prolific goal scorer.

 

“The city has grown so much,” said Usiyan. “I needed a tour guide. Everything is new and it has become such a great school.”

 

Luckily for fans with an interest in soccer, Usiyan’s thoughts on Appalachian are much the same as his thoughts on the progress of soccer in the United States.

             

           

 

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