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When freshman Britanny Kochenderfer learned in her first year as a Henley soccer player, she would be coached by Rod Husain, she, along with some of her teammates, didn't know much about him - except for one thing.

"We knew he was a legend," Kochenderfer said.

Via Merriam-Webster: "Legend - a story coming down from the past, especially one popularly regarded as historical."

Leaving home, drafted into the Army

Forty-two years ago, a 19-year-old Husain left his native island of Trinidad, located in the southern Caribbean, just off the coast of Venezuela, the northern-most country in South America. He hopped the Atlantic on a beeline to New York City.

He was looking for a change of scenery, a change of pace, a change of life.

There, Husain was drafted into the Army and spent two years serving in Germany during the Vietnam War.

For most countries outside the United States, soccer is like a first language. All other sports take a backseat, if other sports even exist.

Trinidad was the same, and when Husain came to the United States, he was an all-natural soccer player. He had a ball at his feet at a young age, playing the game through high school, a talented goalkeeper.

It was no surprise when he was asked to play in a local league for the military team in Germany.

"My captain saw me kicking the ball around and encouraged me to play," Husain said. "More for public relations, I think."

On the move

Luckily, Husain never was called to combat. He returned to New York. One year later, a friend he had met in the military suggested Husain pay him a visit in Boise, Idaho.

Husain liked the area, liked the challenge of a new place and made the move across the country. There, he met his wife, Linda.

The two spent a year in Boise before moving farther west to a small town called Blodgett, 20 miles west of Corvallis.

With his GI Bill, Husain enrolled at Linn Benton Community College to study to become a teacher. Like before, an opportunity to play soccer presented itself.

"The athletic director saw me knocking the ball around and asked me if I wanted to start a program," Husain remembers. "I said: ‘Sure!' "

Husain competed for Woodstock's Pizza. He won his first title there, too.

"It was a big, huge trophy, like four-feet tall," Husain said. "It was the first I'd ever won for a championship."

Husain says that was the moment he realized soccer could be part of his profession.

Getting a start, soccer in the Basin

After spending two years on Oregon State University's club soccer team as a reserve keeper, he graduated in 1979 with a degree in education.

At the time, finding a job was difficult, so Husain settled on a gig at a brand new fish hatchery, located in Fort Klamath.

"I wondered what the heck I was getting into moving down here," Husain said.

Five years later, Husain broke into the education market, and was hired at Henley Middle School to work with at-risk students. He taught literature, English, math and social studies.

In 1987, a school mother asked Husain to help her coach a boys 11-under team. The next year, he was hired as the Mazama boys head coach, and in 1989 transferred over to Henley to represent the school where he taught at, and coach the boys.

Husain's coaching career was under way.

"I was young enough to show the players what to do," Husain remembers. "I could kick the ball and keep up with them."

Husain, along with ambassadors Manny Garcia and Adolfo Pizano, among others, spent time in the offseason working with players, creating leagues and setting up matches, not only for the teams he coached, but for the entire Klamath Basin.

The interest for soccer in the area, as well as the level of play, skyrocketed.

From the 1989 season until 1999, the high school squads Husain coached never missed the state playoffs. He garnered two co-championships, two second-places, one third and one fourth.

"With the teams from down here, people would ask: ‘Where do they come from?' " said Bryan Mueller, head soccer coach at OIT, and former player and co-coach with Husain. "He put Klamath Falls soccer on the map."