POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Two of Pearl River's more dangerous soccer standouts in recent years are going pro.
Shande James (Trench Town, Jamaican; Clarendon College High) has decided to return to his native Jamaica and sign with Portmore United of the Red Stripe Premier League.
Ethan Hodby (Leicester, England) has signed with Apea Akrotiriou in Cyprus' STOK Elite Division.
"It was a great pleasure having both of them at Pearl River. You hate to see young men not continuing their education, but when an opportunity arises to pursue their dreams we clearly understand their decisions," Pearl River coach Drew Gallant said. "I have no doubt Shande and Ethan be successful and continue to rise through the professional ranks.
"I expect big things from both of them in the future."
James made an immediate difference in his one season at PRCC. James starred in the midfield for Gallant, netting a team-high eight goals with three assists for 19 points. While he scored a number of impactful goals, his most exciting was arguably his overtime winner at Itawamba. James also scored two goals against both Gulf Coast and Southwest.
For his standout season, James landed a spot on the All-Region XXIII squad.
"It was very good playing at Pearl River," James said. "I learned a lot of things since going there and met a lot of good players and coaches."
Now James, who has already earned an appearance for Jamaica's Under-20 squad, will look to find his footing with in Jamaica's professional ranks.
"It's been good for me to believe in myself and fight for what I want to achieve," James said of his professional opportunity.
James has already found his way onto the pitch in the Red Stripe Premier League, playing the full 90 minutes in his first three matches and scored in his most recent appearance.
Hodby completed two seasons at Pearl River and was a major reason the Wildcats claimed consecutive MACJC South Division titles.
Having joined PRCC after playing in Leicester City's youth academy, Hodby was expected to play atop the formation but instead found a home as a defensive midfielder. The 5-foot-11 midfielder proved to be most valuable clearing out trouble and transitioning the Wildcats from defense to offense. He finished his PRCC career with two goals and two assists and was selected as an MACJC All-Star and All-Region XXIII representative.
"Pearl River was pure quality," Hodby said. "The people I met and the experience I had was nothing short of top class. I'm very grateful to Pearl River for giving me the opportunity."
Like James, Hodby will now start his ascension through the professional ranks.
"It's always been a mission of mine to play at the highest level of professional soccer that I can and I have said I'll never quit until I achieve my goal," he said.
Pearl River Community College
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