Marquette soccer player makes special journey from Ghana to Wisconsin

Lance Allan

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Marquette soccer player makes special journey from Ghana to Wisconsin

CREATED Sep. 26, 2013

Marquette University's men's soccer program has a story so good, you'd think it would belong in Hollywood, except this movie that's a soccer version of "The Blind Side" is real life.

This is "C's" journey, an athlete who doesn't view himself as an inspiration.

But you can't help but be inspired.

James Nortey, or "C" as his friends call him, grew up in Ghana.

When he was 11, he sold sport drinks on the side of the road and tried to enter the Right to Dream scholarship program.

"Even the first try with the Right to Dream foundation, they didn't take him.  He sat outside the gates," said Marquette coach Louis Bennett.

Throughout his life, a word that begins with D has driven C.

That word: determination.

When he was finally accepted, a family in the U.S. took him in so he could get a high school education.

"A Christmas stocking...they got me one of those.  That was the time they told me you're part of our family now, so it was awesome," explained Nortey.

Eventually, Marquette accepted Nortey, and as a freshman, he became the team's leading goal scorer.

The steepest hill for him to climb: not one, but two knee surgeries.

"Going through the injury and the recovery process is one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through," said Nortey.

"The first thing an athlete wants to know is how long, and then when you're told, 'Well, we're not sure.'  This particular surgery that he's had on both knees, I think 10 years ago...his career would have been over.  People are saying 'Nortey's back, and is he back as good as he was?'  Well, he's better," explained Bennett.

Here he is, scoring goals, with a determination rarely seen.

"I think everybody has to determine if you want something, and for me, if I want something, I would do whatever to get it," said Nortey.

"Let's face it.  How can you intimidate a guy that's been through what he's been, and he's fearless.  That dedication and coupled up with a fearless approach to everything that he does," added Bennett.

Nortey adds, "All my siblings are looking up to me.  They see me as a role model.  They want to have this opportunity.  Every person in Ghana wants to have this opportunity, so the fact that I have it, I'm really lucky to have it."

Jay Sorgi contributed to this report.