El Monte is a Long Way from Cameroon for Nkouanyep

Darlin Nkouanyep flanked by HC Jesse Ceniceros on the left and last year’s DC Jacob Calderon and current assistant George Hernandez on the right.

By George Hernandez

Just over a year ago Darlin Nkouanyep was watching a group of kids playing a game he had never seen before. Now he’s a returning Mission Valley League All League linebacker for the El Monte Lions.

At the age of 11 Nkouanyep saw his parents get arrested in his home country of Cameroon which is going through a Civil War.

Nkouanyep and his siblings then went to live with his aunt until she passed away when he was 13-years old. From then on they were homeless but would occasionally spend the night at friends homes. But Nkouanyep always made sure they made it to school consistently.

In January 2017 a family friend told Darlin and his siblings he was going to get them to the United States. On January 18th they went from Cameroon to Morocco, Spain and Mexico before finally finding their way to Texas. They weren’t there for long as Nkouanyep was sent to Chicago where he was placed in a detention center from February through May.

On May 5th, Nkouanyep was sponsored by Abraham Kicha and his family that resides in El Monte.

While enrolling for school Nkouanyep noticed a bunch of kids playing a game he didn’t know – it was El Monte’s football team. An assistant coach and father at the time and newly hired El Monte Head Coach Jesse Ceniceros Sr. approached Darlin and let him know he was more then welcome to come and try out some American football.

Only two days later Nkouanyep had all of his paperwork turned in and was out practicing with the team.

It took awhile but week by week Darlin got better and his no fear attitude and 100-mph way that he plays the game earned him a spot on special teams and by the time league started he was a starting linebacker for the Lions.

Now heading into 2018 Nkouanyep has become an outspoken leader for a team which is returning a majority of its players from last year.

Darlin says his “brothers and family” on the team fill some of the void of not talking to his parents since February.

CIF recently granted a extra year of eligibility for Nkouanyep after he missed over a year of school while trying to make it to America.

“All of my coaches have taught me alot and how to fight back in real life”, said Nkouanyep.

Darlin will be starting on a defense that has nine returners and will see time at running back for an offense that also is returning nine players.

El Monte HC Jesse Ceniceros said Nkouanyep fits right in. “Darlin is a perfect example of, don’t wish for it work for it”, which is an El Monte motto.

22 Comments to "El Monte is a Long Way from Cameroon for Nkouanyep"

  1. Adrene's Gravatar Adrene
    August 7, 2018 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Poor writing? I wouldn’t say all that. Everyone makes mistakes. You took your time to read it and I’m sure you understood it. So, enjoy and move along.

  2. I'm moving to Alaska next summer's Gravatar I'm moving to Alaska next summer
    August 7, 2018 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    Well said, coach

  3. Coach Ceniceros's Gravatar Coach Ceniceros
    August 6, 2018 - 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Football and sports is an area where we bring people of all races, religions, and different backgrounds and ask them to work as one for a common goal. To see this happen for most of my lifetime, it still amazes me that kids do this on a daily basis with no isssues. Mr. Darlin’s story is an amazing story of perseverance, trust and hope. Our paths have crossed in El Monte and for this time being I’m honored to look at this young man and know that my daily struggles are nothing compared to his journey of hope. It’s one learning experience between a coach and player that happen everyday across this nation because of sport. Just as he has a story there are 100 others that are just as intriguing on our football team. Here’s to football and to the many stories that will arise this 2018 season! Thanks George for the great article and thanks to the MidValleySports for putting the spotlight on the kids of our communities.

  4. Coacher's Gravatar Coacher
    August 6, 2018 - 10:49 pm | Permalink

    What you talking about?

  5. Coach C's Gravatar Coach C
    August 6, 2018 - 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Family always! One of the most beautiful, hardworking, and humble families I know. Congrats and let’s get ready for some football! Thank you!

  6. old ucla grad's Gravatar old ucla grad
    August 6, 2018 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    No one is perfect. Everyone puts their foot in their mouth sometime. I know I do. The great thing about writing, though, is that you can correct your mistake before someone sees it, something thats harder to do if the mistake is verbal, though with the recent example provided by our great president, if you can flood your hearer with errant statements, then the most heinous mistakes can be glossed over. The late Ann Landers used to proscribe being struck with a wet noodle for minor offenses, of which the expression of disdain by the captain surely is .

  7. Angelus Fan's Gravatar Angelus Fan
    August 6, 2018 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Good Luck to this fine young man and The Elmonte program.

  8. WWAD's Gravatar WWAD
    August 6, 2018 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Knightwatch, it is pronounced just like it is written.

    Captain, if you are going to call out a poorly written article (and why the hell would you? this isn’t the NY Times), you should include at least one example of what you think is wrong with it.

  9. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    August 6, 2018 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Similar to the Christian Okoye story. Good luck to him this season.

  10. August 6, 2018 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Leave it to Captain to show his ignorance once again.
    Very inspirational story. Wishing this kid nothing but the best which I’m sure is very bright. The beauty of football there’s so many of these types of stories hidden in our game.
    I’ll be watching the lions just because of this kid. Good luck.

  11. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    August 6, 2018 - 7:25 am | Permalink

    Coach C is one of the best coaches I’ve ever known, not only with my boys , but every one he can turn any program around , not only a good friend we’re family nothing but love from the Penny’s thx Coach

  12. Ron Vrooman, AHS stat man's Gravatar Ron Vrooman, AHS stat man
    August 6, 2018 - 1:03 am | Permalink

    Great story! Darlin’s talent, hard work, and perseverance ought to take him far in life. I wish him the best.

  13. August 6, 2018 - 12:00 am | Permalink

    The article was written by an assistant coach and not a professional writer. And with that said I found not a thing wrong with it. It’s a feel good story with everything a good story needs. Who, what, where, when, and why.
    Maybe the gentleman who is complaining feels that it was poorly written because Arroyo was not mentioned in it? I mean for whatever reason they have been on every other thread….and he’s going thru withdrawals?
    Who knows…
    I enjoyed the write up.

  14. Lucy's Gravatar Lucy
    August 5, 2018 - 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Wow he went through a lot.. come to show with alittle help and faith anything can happen..

  15. Knightwatch's Gravatar Knightwatch
    August 5, 2018 - 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I subbed in Darlin’s classes a few times last year. I can add that he is a very dedicated student that is respectful of all around him. I hope we play the Lions at El Monte so I don’t butcher his name when he makes a tackle.

  16. The Hammer's Gravatar The Hammer
    August 5, 2018 - 9:06 pm | Permalink

    To CAPTAIN….. if you don’t have something good to say about a very inspiring story .. don’t say anything at all ………HAVE SOME CLASS !

  17. Lol's Gravatar Lol
    August 5, 2018 - 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Seriously?? of the many things to complain about in this world you complain about how this specific article was written?
    From T. Peterson: Agreed. Plus there was nothing wrong with the way it was written. There were no grammatical errors and George brought out what the story was all about – Darlin and his journey from Cameroon to El Monte. I have no idea what the comment was about. Clueless. Jealousy? I don’t know.

  18. SiscoVee's Gravatar SiscoVee
    August 5, 2018 - 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Did you understand the story? I’m sure you did. If you are a great writer good for you. It’s not cool to try and bash someone.Maybe the person writing the story was most focused on the child in the story. Anyways good story. Keep it up. I enjoyed and understood the story. Good luck kid, you have a great future ahead of you.

  19. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    August 5, 2018 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

    What a great Article congratulations to the young man and to the football program great job to the head coach And coaching staff

  20. Great Story's Gravatar Great Story
    August 5, 2018 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

    THIS piece is a direct shot across the bow at all the haters of football, who are currently running an intense campaign to limit and ultimately end the sport in California. It deserves the widest readership, especially among those legislators and administrators who never played, but presume to tell the rest of us what it’s all about. Kudos also to coach Cineceros: you sir are a man of great merit.

  21. Captain's Gravatar Captain
    August 5, 2018 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Any one edit these stories before uploading them? My goodness. Poor writing. Good luck to this player.
    From MVS Staff: Poor writing in what way?

  22. The Truth's Gravatar The Truth
    August 5, 2018 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Great write up and great kid. Wish him nothing but the best!

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