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Humble as he is talented, Danny Bedoya was reluctant to accept that a single signature put him in a class by himself.
The Francis Lewis center midfielder became the first high Division I soccer player in Coach Roger Sarmuksnis’ hugely successful tenure April 2 when he faxed his National Letter of Intent to St. John’s University.
An East Elmhurst native, Bedoya was playing down the accomplishment, saying the program, his teammates and Sarmuksnis made it possible, that his scholarship to St. John’s was no more significant than any of the other scholarship players that wore Patriot black.
“We all try to play our best and make it into a good school with a good offer,” said Bedoya, who is ranked 84th in his class nationally and fourth in the state by topdrawersoccer.com. “That’s all I did.”
It made sense for the selfless star — for three years Bedoya took as much joy out of scoring as he did setting up others.
He recalled showing Sarmuksnis the papers before he sent them over to his future school and the coach’s reaction stuck with him.
“It’s the best papers I’ve ever seen,” the coach told him.
Bedoya added, “It seems like he was proud of me.”
Not seems — he was and is. Bedoya fell short of leading Lewis to an elusive city title, guiding the Patriots to back-to-back finals berths, but he did everything else. He waited his turn and took advantage of his opportunities, emerging as arguably the top talent in the city this fall. His senior year Bedoya scored 16 goals and added 14 assists, helping to extend the Patriots’ unbeaten streak in Queens to a hard-to-fathom 57 matches (50-0-7).
“It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Sarmuksnis said. “He really earned it. He practiced hard, did well with his grades. I was happier for him than I think any other player to come out of Francis Lewis.”
The Colombian-born Bedoya heard from Clemson, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Bucknell, but he wanted to stay local, to be near his brother Santiago, who plays for Queens College, and parents Olga and Freddie. St. John’s, Iona and Adelphi were the options.
“I couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” he said.
The Red Storm, a perennial national powerhouse, began following him as a junior and remained in contact, often attending his games with Red Bull Academy. When the offer came through last week, he couldn’t wipe a smile off his face. He signed March 30 and sent the paper over April 2.
“It feels good, now knowing I’m going to such a big program,” Bedoya said. “I’m really excited. Being able to play at Belson Stadium, having my friends from Francis Lewis come watch, that will be great. I can picture it in my head. It makes me happy to think about.”
Bedoya said the coaching staff, led by legendary headman Dave Masur, has told him there will be an opportunity to get on the pitch as a freshman. They like his playmaking skills, pinpoint accuracy on set pieces and ability on the ball.
“He’s a game-changer,” Sarmuksnis said.
During the year, the coach called Bedoya one of the top players he’s ever coached, right up there with Sebastian Guenzatti, Chris Herrera and John Koutsounadis. He’s now in his own category, even if he is reluctant to admit it.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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