Parlen Modiba had a rough landing in Vermont when he came from his native South Africa. For starters, he just wanted to go somewhere in the U.S. that was warm. But that wish was not granted as he arrived in Killington in 2006.
Modiba thought he would stay about six month in the U.S., but six years later, he has been named head soccer coach of the CSJ men’s and women’s teams. He is also a dorm director on campus.
Back in South Africa, Modiba was a professional soccer player for the Ria Stars for about five years. After the team was bought out by the league, he went on to teach elementary and high school. His path to the United States did not go as smoothly as he had hoped.
Modiba was dropped off in Killington on Christmas Eve and was unable to reach anyone from the ski area. He had little in terms of clothing that was suitable for the weather and nowhere to eat. When he did find a restaurant that was open, it was closing before lunch time. He bought three breakfasts to get him through the next few days.
With no transportation from the mountain, Modiba was unaware of anything but the ski area.
“I thought maybe this is it. Maybe this is all there is,” Modiba said.
Despite the early struggles, Modiba stuck with it in the United States, getting work extensions. He bounced between working on a ferry in Connecticut, driving a bus on Martha’s Vineyard and as a lift operator in Killington.
He met his wife, Michelle Chamberlain, while here in Vermont and they were married in 2009. Michelle is also a dorm director at CSJ.
Modiba sees a bright future for his soccer teams. He said CSJ Athletic Director Phil Bartlet has worked hard to increase the number of student athletes and recruit students to the program.
“The boys have energy and skill. They need to have a plan,” Modiba said. “If we work as a team, we are going to have a good team.”
He said he will work on better strategies on the field, teamwork and improving players’ conditioning. He said his teams have good skills in general, they just need more practices and game experience. He will identify where improvement is needed and work on those things in the two practices a day he is planning to hold.
“My philosophy is I believe in hard work. I’m practical.” “I like it to be practical. I’m not much into theory,” Modiba said. “I expect my players to stay in shape year-round and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, respecting their athletic talents.”
Respect for one’s self, as well as others, and discipline are the values Modiba wants to instill in his team.
“If you have respect and discipline and you are dedicated, the sky’s the limit. You’ll go far,” Modiba said.
He sees a successful outcome for his teams as playing more games and bringing the team together.
“I know when we build a ‘team’ we will not lose many games,” he said.
Athletic Director Phil Bartlett sees Modiba as an important piece of the puzzle of building a strong soccer program.
“Parlen Modiba brings to College of St Joseph what every program wants and needs. Proven ability to play the game he coaches at the highest level. His personal focus and dedication to teaching the exact way he competed will be the cornerstone in building a strong successful program at CSJ,” Bartlett said.
What Modiba likes most at CSJ is spending time with the students and telling them about his experience.
“Sports is what I like. It’s my passion,” he said. And, sharing his passion with people means he is successful.
Modiba can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org