Player Spotlight: #Ashani Samuels




Fresh off the plane from West Moreland, Jamaica, freshman midfielder Ashani Samuels is having an immediate impact on the Bears soccer squad. Scoring his first collegiate goal in the game versus VMI and following it up with another on the road against Nebraska Omaha, Samuels is a force to be reckoned with at such a young age.


The 6-foot-4, 167-pounder played three sports while attending Mannings School in Jamaica. They included soccer, volleyball and track and field.

Former member of the Jamaican U-20 National Team and the Sandals Whitehouse Club team, Samuels has already experienced success at a high level, seeing his team advance all the way to the semifinals of the Flow Champions Cup in his home country.

Samuels brings all of his experience to a vamped-up men’s soccer club as he sat down with The Cluster to speak about some of his interests and early experiences at Mercer.


Cluster: How did you hear about Mercer?

Ashani: After playing with the U-20 National Team, Brad Ruzzo (Mercer’s head soccer coach), was friends with the National coach and he recommended me. They already had a player profile on me. They gave him the profile and I received a call. He told me about the school, I checked it out online, I liked it, so I decided to come here.


C: How is soccer different in America than in Jamaica?

A: They are different in a lot of ways. In Jamaica, soccer is like touch football. The center midfielder dictates the game. The long ball is not Jamaican style football either. We like to have the ball at our feet and play a lot of touches and enjoy the game. It’s a bit different but somewhat similar. You still have to put the ball in the back of the net.


C: How has your transition been to America so far?

A: With cultural shock and everything, it is a bit difficult. My teammates and friends I have made here have made it a bit easier. I’m getting along.


C: What do you miss most about home?

A: Sometimes I miss the touch football game, honestly. I miss my mom and immediate family members. I miss my friends. Other than that, Mercer is like a home and I’m trying to make the best of it.


C: What has been your most memorable moment at Mercer?

A: The win against VMI. We were down 1-0 in the 76th minute of the game. I scored a header to equalize it, another player on the team scored, and I think Bryson came in with the third and final nail on the coffin and we won the game 3-1. In 14 minutes, we scored three goals. That’s quite impressive.


C: What have you enjoyed about your coaches and teammates?

A: They are always there to help you. They can always talk [to] and motivate you. They make sure you are always on the ball.


C: What type of music do you listen to before games?

A: I try to build up little vibes within myself when I go on the field so I go with something I feel more comfortable with, like Jamaican songs; songs that I am already accustomed to. I like a little R & B, I think.  Reggae. Reggae.


C: Who’s your favorite athlete?

A: My favorite athlete is Steven Gerrard. He is a footballer who plays for Liverpool.


C: Why did you choose soccer over volleyball and track?

A: Honestly, I’ve never thought about that. I think I was just a little more talented in that. Things work out soccer-wise for me. Soccer is a sport you can excel more in. I find [it] a bit more fun. It’s a bigger space to play on and more players to play with. It’s not really one-person-dependent but a team.


C: How have position changes affected your play?

A: I like the experience of playing all over the place. I love it.


Samuels’ passion for the game shows through every game, as he has begun to put up some impressive numbers in the early weeks of the season. With their recent conference win over UNF in their conference play opener of 2011, Samuels and the Bears improved their record to 5-3-1 on the season. While his everyday life might be a little crazy and a bit of a “cultural shock” as of right now, Ashani Samuels feels right at home on the field with his fellow companions of the soccer squad.

Watch Samuels and the rest of the Bears team as they continue conference competition with three of their remaining seven conference matches taking place at home.

 Click here to watch the full video!