By Maria Isabel Parada
Published: October 18th, 2017
Senior captain Jean-Luc Saint-Fleur recently turned down a promotion at his job so that he could play soccer his senior year as a member of the Brooklyn College Bulldogs.
Saint-Fleur was born in Queens. At age three, he moved to Haiti, where his passion for soccer began.
“I started playing when I was four to five years old, very young,” Saint-Fleur said.
He used a field next to his house to learn and practice the sport whenever he could. His parents were fundamental in the growth of his career as a soccer player. “I was very lucky to have my parents who supported me in everything,” he said, even though it was not easy.
To his benefit, Saint-Fleur’s parents were able to afford to put him in soccer academies. “I remember vividly thinking at nine years old that I was the best nine-year-old on the planet.”
At 16 years old, he moved back to the U.S., where he lived with his aunt. However, here he could hardly function, let alone play soccer. “My aunt was over-protecting,” Saint-Fleur said. “She would not let us go out of the house.”
During his last year of high school, he could not play soccer and was in a very difficult place in his life. “I was readjusting to the culture; missing home, not being with my family and not playing soccer was very stressful,” Saint-Fleur said.
After a couple of years, things shifted for Saint-Fleur. He moved back to New York and came to Brooklyn College in 2015 to study economics. He tried out for the soccer team, convinced he was not going to make it.
“I looked at the talent; everybody was in great shape, and I did not expect it to be that competitive,” he said. Saint-Fleur confessed, “I thought I was going to come in and be the superstar, but then the reality was, ‘Oh, my God…these guys are actually really good.’”
But despite his doubts, Saint Fleur made the team. He recalled his very first season as a member of the Bulldogs, and recalled the feeling to have to work extra hard since he had to prove his worth to his new teammates.
That year, the team fell against City College of New York in the playoffs. “It was a tough, tough loss,” Saint-Fleur said.
The best memories he has were with his teammates when they were together traveling on the road and both on and off the field.
In the long term, Saint-Fleur’s ultimate dream is to help create schools back in Haiti. “Back home, a lot of kids don’t have a lot of hobbies or things to do, which makes them turn into activities that are dangerous [and] self-destructive.” Saint-Fleur wants to create schools where sports can be incorporated.
As far as his personal education goes, his goal is to finish his Master’s Degree at Brooklyn College. Right now, however, Saint-Fleur is looking to take on a heavy workload for his team as they look to push through the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) tournament.