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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

Closing the Chapter

Closing+the+Chapter

November 10, 2023/12:00a.m.

With 17 goals and 10 assists on the season, graduate student Tinashe Katsande is enjoying the best season of his career. The 6’3 forward has recently been named the PSAC West Player of the Year, and his Golden Knights soccer team has cruised to a 16-0-2 record, a top-10 national ranking, and hosts this weekend’s PSAC Tournament.

For Katsande, his performance this season has been over a year in the making, “I feel like this started in the spring for me. It was my last spring semester and I told myself to enjoy it. Enjoy the final moments of my collegiate career. I wound up having a great spring. I think I scored five goals, and I had three assists and a goal involvement in every game.” Coming off his spring performance, Katsande’s coaches challenged him to carry his performances into the fall, as they felt he could finish as a top goal scorer in the PSAC. Katsande’s quest to accomplish the goals his coaches set out for him got off to a slow start. After netting a goal in the first game of the season against Georgian Court, he had a string of five games without finding the net. However, the Golden Knights were winning, and Katsande was finding other ways to get in on the scoring action, accumulating three assists in those five games. In game six, a 1-1 tie against Saginaw Valley State, Katsande finally found the back of the net again, and he went on to register nine straight games with at least one goal, including a four-goal performance against Lock Haven. He would finish the regular season with a hat trick (three goals) to push his season total to 17—the top mark in the PSAC. When looking back on his soccer roots, Katsande says that a season like this is a long way away from where he began.

While the forward’s biography on the Gannon Athletics website lists his hometown as Norwich, England, Katsande credits his introduction to soccer, or football, to his birthplace of Zimbabwe. “I grew up just hanging out with friends playing football in the streets. We’d just find spare plastics and whatever we could find and put it all together, make a ball, and just play around. Football was never really in me. It was more like a little fun thing that we would get up to.” At nine years old, Katsande moved from his grandparents in Zimbabwe to live with his mom in Norwich, and it was here that he got his first experience playing organized soccer by joining a team with one of his friends when he was eleven. He showed up to his first training session in just a pair of “trainers,” or sneakers, and at that point, his soccer career began. “Unfortunately for me, I was like the least technical person on my team. It helped me to be on a really good team from the very beginning because it helped me get better quickly.”

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As Katsande progressed as a soccer player, he never seriously considered pursuing college soccer in America. “It was never something that I had planned. I know in America; a lot of people play sports to get a scholarship to go to college. For me, it was completely different. I was more like, do well in school so I can go to university in England and get a good job.” That all changed once he participated in a showcase tournament in Las Vegas when he was in high school. “I remember we went to San Diego, Vegas, L.A., and all these nice places, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is America?’ That really helped me want to keep pushing to come here.” At the time, he was already in contact with Gannon Head Coach Billy Colton, and he had two other teammates committed to come to Gannon, including current teammate, Toby Gower. All of those factors lead Katsande to commit to Gannon as well.

In his time since arriving at Gannon, Katsande believes that he’s matured greatly. The move across the pond forced him to adapt to a different culture. He had to learn how to navigate college life and interact with different people from different walks of life. “That was, for me, the hardest thing for me coming here adapting to this culture. I’ve always loved American culture, but doing it from somewhere else, to actually being in it, is completely different.” Aside from just adjusting to the culture, Katsande says that over the years, he’s developed an appreciation for campus life. Having developed friendships with many students and student-athletes in the Gannon community, he’s come to appreciate the smaller university feel that Gannon provides. “I’ve had to learn to interact and get along with everyone because it’s such a small community.”

Now, Katsande is in his fifth and final season with the Golden Knights, and while there were many goals set for him coming into this season, his mind is focused on only one thing: The PSAC Championship. “In my time here, I’ve lost two PSAC finals and one PSAC Semifinal. We’ve been unfortunate in the years that I’ve been here that we’ve come so far and always fell short of it a little bit, but I think everyone’s in the right mentality and right headspace to be able to push through whatever barrier has stopped us previously. We have the right group of guys to get it.”

Regardless of how this season ends, Katsande knows his time as a Golden Knight will end this season. When thinking about what comes next, he says that while his original plan was to get his degree and return home to Norwich, plans have changed. “I feel like I’m only getting better, and I still want to continue to pursue playing soccer. That’s the goal. To play as hard as I can for as long as I can. If it leads me to getting closer to becoming a pro or to playing at a very good level, then so be it, but I don’t think I’m ready to stop playing. I feel like I’m only now reaching my peak. Gannon was just another chapter for me, and I hope I can open up another one once I’m done.”

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About the Contributor
Jonathan Williams, Sports Editor
This semester’s Sports Editor for the Gannon Knight is Jonathan Williams. He is a graduate student from Bamberg, South Carolina pursuing his master's in strategic communications. He graduated with a Bachelor's in English from LaGrange College in 2021, before transferring to Gannon last fall. This will be his first time writing for a newspaper; however, he is very excited about this opportunity. Upon graduating in December, he plans to pursue a career in sports journalism. In addition to the paper, Jonathan is a member of Gannon's football team and was named a PSAC Scholar Athlete for the 22-23 school year. He is also a part of Gannon's radio station: 90.5 WERG. In his downtime, he loves to play the piano, play soccer, and spend time with friends and teammates. Thank you for all of your support with The Gannon Knight!

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