A little over three years ago, James Sylvester was beginning his senior year at Eastern Commerce High School in downtown Toronto, Ontario. Every day James rode a bus and a train from his home in Rexdale, a suburb of Toronto, to school where he enjoyed playing sports and hanging out with his friends. James played guard on his team and hoped that he would be able to do so at a college also. He found that opportunity when coach Jase Herl from Northwest Kansas Technical College in Goodland, Kansas reached out to James via Facebook after a game one evening. Coach Herl asked James to come to Kansas for a visit.

Not knowing what Kansas had to offer besides an opportunity to keep playing ball, James took a flight from Toronto to Denver and then came to Goodland via I-70. As James exited the interstate into Goodland Kansas, he remembers thinking “there’s nothing here.” James was wrong. His first semester was tough, he hadn’t been this far away from his two sisters, brother, or mom for this long in his entire life. As James grew homesick, he thought that he might have made a mistake in coming to Kansas. However, he knew that if he left he would not forgive himself, so he put his head down, and focused on school and basketball, one day at a time and one play at a time.

When James looked up, he noticed that he was surrounded by new friends, on and off of the court. At that moment he realized what it was about Goodland that was most special. As he put it “I noticed that people really care.” His coaches seemed to have his concerns and future high on their priority lists, and he hadn’t felt that way before coming here. It was a great feeling.

James is in his fourth and final semester at Northwest Tech, and now he has mixed emotions about leaving. The place that James had thought of as having “nothing here” is now a part of his life and legacy, and he is ready to move on to the next chapter of his life. James is going to attend a four year school next year and wants to one day become a fire fighter. He is very thankful for the opportunities that his coaches and the faculty at Northwest Tech have given him, and he emphatically boasts that he won’t ever forget his teammates, coaches, or the Van Gogh painting in Goodland Kansas.