Liberia is a small nation situated on the rich and beautiful coast of West Africa, Cote d’Ivoire on the east and the diamond region of Sierra Leone on the west. What bonds these nations together other than their rich lands, culture, and heritage, is the game of soccer. This is the region and culture Huston-Tillotson Soccer player and defender, Otis Garlo is from. Leaving Liberia behind, after years of civil war and unrest, coming to the United States for a better life and future, like most Liberians; Otis came to this nation in hope of a better life and attaining a higher education. It just so happen that he had the God given ability and love to play the game of soccer, which brought him to the big city of Austin, Texas and the historic Huston-Tillotson University, where Arick Lassiter is the head soccer coach. Living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was through a friend Bill Rogers and former Ram soccer player Varney Saidu that Otis found out about Huston-Tillotson University and its soccer program. Listening to the advice of Bill Rogers and seeing the opportunity that existed, Otis made the sacrifice to leave Philadelphia, coming to Austin, Texas to play for the new look Rams in fall 2010. It was then, that his journey and dream to play soccer and getting an education became a reality.
If you know a Liberian, one knows and understands that their love for soccer and passion for the game surpasses all. It is in a sense, that this culture of people, most like everywhere else in the world, lives and breathes the game. Early in childhood, youth learn to play and that love for the game is embedded in that individual soul for life. No words or even imagery can describe what the game means to a Liberian, other than the phrase associated with a individual who is great, called baller. In Liberia and throughout the Liberian community in the United States and around the world, if you are considered a baller, that means you can play beyond anyone's imagination, heck, even your own. Well, Ottis Garlo is a baller. There have been a few Liberian ballers to come to Rams athletic program but none have help lead the Rams to the heights, which Otis has. Coming from a background of rich history and promise, Otis hope to continue to make a name for himself, family, and nation.
Huston-Tillotson University is one of the 11 historically black university affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and the United Negro College Fund. The history of this historic institution lies between two schools, Tillotson College and Samuel Huston College. After racism help lead to the merger of both institutions, here in Austin, Texas October 24, 1952. Since then, Huston-Tillotson has been and continues to be a road map of achievement of so many students, domestic and international alike. Students from all over the world, come together and make this historic institution, the symbolism of what America is about. The Huston-Tillotson men’s soccer team is a great example of that. With a diverse team of Hispanics and Africans, head coach Arick Lassiter has been able to put together the best soccer team in Central Texas, with the help of star Liberian defender, Otis Garlo. With a overall record of 15-2-1, winning the the Red River Athletic Conference regular season championship, the Rams made not only the conference tournament but their first ever bid to the NAIA national championship hosted in Kansas City, Missouri. In the opening rounds last week Otis and the Rams took down No. 14 Kansas Wesleyan, 4-3 in overtime, and became the only newcomer team in the championship to advance to elimination rounds Nov. 28 – Dec. 3 in Orange Beach, Alabama. The city of Austin and the entire community would like to say congratulation to Ottis and the Rams, and especially Coach Lassiter for a job well done, rock maroon and gold. All final games can be viewed at www.WatchNAIA.com.
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