Geofrey Kalanzi Wins NJCAA Lea Plarski Award
Former DCTC Soccer Star Receives Prestigious National Honor
The National Junior College Athletic Association selected Geofrey Kalanzi, a former student and Blue Knights soccer standout at Dakota County Technical College as the winner of the 2008–2009 NJCAA Lea Plarski Award. Handed out annually by theNJCAA, the Lea Plarski Award honors the student-athlete who epitomizes sportsmanship, leadership, community service and academic excellence in conjunction with superior athletic ability and accomplishments.
Born in Kampala, Uganda, Geofrey Kalanzi was 13 years old when he and his two brothers and a sister lost both parents to an AIDS epidemic that has so far cost the lives of 20 million people and orphaned some 11 million children on the continent of Africa.
Kalanzi and his brother, Moses Kabogoza, were eventually taken in by the Home Again Orphanage near Kampala under the care of David Kyambadde, a native Ugandan, and his wife Aimee, a U.S. citizen from Minnesota.
Through the efforts of the couple, the brothers moved to Minnesota, where they resided with Aimee Kyambadde’s parents, the senior pastors at the Resurrection Life Church in Eden Prairie. After meeting DCTC Head Soccer Coach Cam Stoltz, they soon enrolled at the college and joined the men’s soccer team.
“Geofrey discovered the DCTC soccer program after Aimee met Katie Nelson, a player on the 2006–2007 Blue Knights women’s team who was interested in working in Uganda,” Stoltz said. “Katie introduced me to Aimee and from there Geoff and Moses earned scholarships that allowed them to play soccer while studying for their degrees.”
Kalanzi played goalkeeper his first season, earning the Blue Knight Award, the college’s highest athletic accolade. As a forward during his second season, Kalanzi made ICCAC Region XI Men’s Soccer Second Team All-Region. Earning a 3.91 GPA for fall 2008, he was also named to the NJCAA Academic All Region Men’s First Team.
“Geofrey was an ideal student for our program because of the balance and scope of excellence he brings to everything he does,” Stoltz added. “We are proud of Geoff’s accomplishments—especially as a member of our overall college community. We trust that he leaves here a better scholar and athlete. We know that we are a better college for having enrolled him as a student.”
While at DCTC, Kalanzi excelled academically, working on a degree in business marketing and serving as a student ambassdor and senator. He transferred to St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., on a full-ride scholarship after spring semester 2009. He will play soccer for the Saints while pursuing a degree in international business.
His long-term goal is to return to his homeland to found an orphanage in Kampala that shelters both boys and girls.
“My sister Allen lives with relatives in Uganda,” Kalanzi said. “She’s only fifteen and still needs to finish high school. I wish to return home to start an orphanage that will help girls like my sister who have lost their parents.”
The 2009 NJCAA Lea Plarski Award will be presented to Kalanzi at the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance 11th Annual AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards banquet on Nov. 21, 2009, in St. Louis, Mo.
Chiefly concerned with building character in sporting endeavors, the CTSA is the largest coalition of professional and amateur athletics organizations in the U.S.
Lea Plarski was a former director of athletics at St. Louis Community College in Florissant Valley. She helped establish the Women’s Division of the NJCAA in 1975, making history in 1990 as the first woman elected NJCAA president, a position she held for six years.
For more on Geofrey Kalanzi’s story, please read Ugandan Student Overcomes Orphanhood and Ugandan soccer stars have serious goals at Dakota County Technical College.