Shin leads way at Mesa

Senior from South Korea has found love for game and has helped Mustangs stay in playoff contention.

January 29, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza,
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

Dong-Gi Shin's first season at Costa Mesa High did not turn out as expected. The Mustangs never won a boys' soccer match in Orange Coast League play two seasons ago.

The reason why the team failed to record a victory in league had nothing to do with talent.

"We couldn't win because [we were] not helping each other and supporting each other," said Shin, adding that it bothered him that the captains on the team messed around. "We were blaming each other when [the opposition would] score on us. I couldn't do anything because I was a sophomore."

Shin wanted to speak up, but he had a problem coming up with the right words.

He did not speak English.

Shin was still adjusting from leaving his homeland, South Korea, for the U.S. He moved with his mother and sister, his father stayed behind.

Shin said he came to this country for a better education. Playing soccer was the last thing on his mind when he arrived on the Costa Mesa campus in the middle of his freshman year.


In fact, he said he detested the sport, the physical and verbal abuse coming from his coaches back home. Soccer played a role in his family's decision for him to have a change of scenery.

Shin had played soccer since he was 6 years old. The game was over for him when he entered high school. He was 5-foot-2, and he said no coach wanted him because of his lack of size.

"I quit soccer because I was really small," Shin said. "If you're small in soccer [back in my country], you can't play.

"My mom decided to move to America."

Shin remembers the date he arrived in the states as if it was the day he was born.

The date was March 24, 2008, and it marked the first time Shin was in another country. He was thrilled, and then the excitement faded.

All Shin had was his sister, Hea Jung, to hang around with on campus. He had no friends. He could not communicate with other students.

The one universal language Shin understood was soccer. He found out Costa Mesa had a team and he tried out his sophomore year.

Costa Mesa Coach Alex Cordoba said he is thankful Shin came out because the midfielder has developed into one of his leaders this season. Shin has also grown since he first joined the program, as he's 5-11.

Shin not only can carry a conversation in English now, but he can also carry his team on his shoulders.

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