Winthrop senior defender Henry Kalungi was picked in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Thursday. He was chosen by the Colorado Rapids in the fourth round with the 53rd overall pick.
Kalungi is the second Winthrop defender to be drafted by an MLS team. John Gilkerson was picked up in the supplemental draft last year by the New York Red Bulls.
Kalungi had talked to Colorado's coaches by phone prior to the draft about coming out for their training camp. He wasn't expecting to be drafted. He watched the first round of the SuperDraft on television, then went for a run. It wasn't until he caught up with teammate Otto Loewy on campus, after the draft, that Kalungi got the good news.
"It was kind of unexpected," the 6-foot-2 native of Uganda said. He hadn't called home yet. He didn't want to wake his family.
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He has a sister and six brothers at home. An uncle with 12 children passed away some time ago. Now they all live in the same house with Kalungi's family.
"They depend on me. I make sure I work hard," Kalungi said. He is wise beyond his years.
"This is the beginning. I don't want to get overexcited. I'll be more excited when I go there and deliver. I believe in myself. It will not be easy, but I will fit into their system."
Training camp will start around Jan. 27.
Kalungi being drafted was a surprise to many.
It was teammates Daniel Revivo and Loewy who were among the 60 athletes invited to participate in the MLS combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. this past week, not Kalungi.
Revivo said he did not play up to his ability at the combine. He was not drafted.
"I'm not all that upset about it," Revivo said. "Being part of the combine was nice. I got some training and some experience. We are all happy for Henry. I'm sure he's going to do great out there."
Revivo expects to get invited to a training camp or two.
Loewy missed the combine after X-rays revealed a leg fracture that will require surgery to repair. Missing the combine was hard on him.
"I am so happy for Henry. We walked around the (on campus) West Center for a long time talking about how we had dreamed of this day, being drafted in the same year. This just wasn't my time," Loewy said. He will have surgery Jan. 26.
Winthrop coach Rich Posipanko said he didn't think Kalungi would get drafted.
"I thought (Colorado) was going to bring him into camp. Salt Lake was interested also," Posipanko said.
"It is good for the program. There are only a handful of programs that have done what we have in terms of winning championships and putting players in the pros. I'm just happy for Henry," Posipanko said. "It's great. It gives us a proven track record."