By Brad Cygan, Missouri Baptist Sports Information
ST. LOUIS – Nearly a week ago, one of the top all-time Missouri Baptist University men’s soccer players achieved what few have in Major League Soccer. Lawrence Olum, an alumnus of Missouri Baptist, rose to the top of the MLS world on Saturday (Dec. 7) as his team, Sporting KC, won the MLS Cup in dramatic fashion.
Olum, a dynamic player at Missouri Baptist, played for the Spartans through the 2006 season and has since made his mark in professional soccer. Beginning in 2007, Olum was signed by the Portland Timbers and prior to his time in Kansas City, spent time with three clubs (Minnesota Thunder, Austin Aztex and Orlando City SC).
As a teenager, Olum moved from his home in Kenya to the United States and came to Missouri Baptist where he played four seasons with the Spartans. His talent was evident to those that played with and around him.
“(Winning the title) was a feeling of relief,” said Olum. “We, as a team, finally accomplished what we had been trying to do for a long time.
The MLS finals were not just a run-of-the-mill championship, if there is such a thing. This season, the championship all came down to penalty kicks… 10 rounds of penalty kicks, in which Olum shot in the eighth round.
“We had been practicing for the penalty kick shootout situation theentire week before,” said Olum.“Of course, I was a little anxious.”
Currently, Olum is in his third year with Sporting KC after signing with the club in September of 2011. Now, in just his third season with the team, he is an MLS Champion.
“I never thought about this moment,” said Olum thinking back to his college playing days.“All I was thinking about was how Icould try to keep doing what I love which was playing competitive soccer.”
Now, after having found years of success at the professional level, Olum’s advice to student-athletes in the NAIA is simple.
“Anything is possible,” said Olum.“You don't have to go to a bigschool to achieve big things. Hard work and determination ultimately paysoff.”
It certainly does and Lawrence Olum is evidence of that fact.
The Missouri Baptist University Department of Athletics supports 26 varsity athletics programs and seven junior varsity sports. The University is a proud member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and is an NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Award winner. Spartan Athletics also encompasses several non-NAIA teams to its credit.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is the governing body for athletics programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. The long-held mission is to advance character-driven intercollegiate athletics while promoting the education and development of well-rounded students and productive citizens through sport participation. The association offers equitable access and opportunities to more than 60,000 student-athletes for the chance to compete in its 23 national championship events held annually throughout the country.
Today, the NAIA strengthens its commitment to student-athletes and strives to enrich their college experience by supporting academic achievement and character development. NAIA Champions of Character is the association’s innovative flagship program designed to instill character values in student-athletes, coaches and youth in the communities it serves. To learn more visit www.NAIA.org.