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SportsHigh SchoolBoys Soccer

Central Islip thrilled to have Robenson Jasmin

Central Islip's Robenson Jasmin passes the ball during

Central Islip's Robenson Jasmin passes the ball during a team practice on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 at Central Islip. Credit: George A. Faella

It was a few weeks into the season last year when several students started begging Central Islip history teacher Mike Pyle to watch the school's boys soccer team play.

Pyle was stunned when he learned the reason for all the fuss was because of Robenson Jasmin, an unassuming skinny kid who Pyle said hadn't uttered more than 10 words through the first two weeks of classes.

Feeling the need for verification, Pyle asked Jasmin one day, "Hey, Robenson, you're on the soccer team?"

"Yeah," Jasmin said with a shrug.

That was it; the conversation ended.

From that moment, Pyle would periodically ask Jasmin how he performed after games during the following days at school.

Jasmin's reply would always be the same: "Good. We won."

Again, that was it; the conversation always ended.

Then Pyle saw Jasmin play.

"I was amazed to find out how good he was because you never would've known it," Pyle said. "There's no bravado with him. There's no chest pounding. There's no 'hey, look at me.' "

Teammates and those close to him say that Jasmin's quiet demeanor has been undeniable since the first day he arrived on Long Island from Haiti in 2011, just in time for his freshman year.

Jasmin didn't play soccer that year because he didn't know Central Islip had a team. He learned it did one fateful day during an ESL class.

In 2012, Jasmin's ESL teacher was Johnny Velez, who also coached the boys soccer team. At that point, Jasmin had heard Velez was the coach, so he brought a picture to class one day. The picture depicted him playing with his former team in Haiti.

"So I asked if he played," Velez said. "And he said -- and this is funny -- 'I play a little bit.' Actually, that turned out to be real funny."

Jasmin accepted an invitation from Velez to practice that day. Jasmin proceeded to unintentionally put on a show.

"You could just see that he was so much more skilled and more conditioned than everybody else on the field," Velez said. "He was blowing the competition away. It was apples to oranges."

When asked about that day recently, Jasmin smiled with a calm look on his face and said: "I wasn't trying hard [to impress]. This is what I do. It's the only sport I play."

Jasmin's presence was felt immediately. Wins followed a year later.

After going 3-9 in 2012, Central Islip, a team many coaches predicted to miss the playoffs, won a league title for the first time since 1994.

"The kids, seeing how focused and committed Robenson was, it just helped cement some unity," Velez said. "The rest of the boys soon realized we could do something special."

And do something even more historic. Behind Jasmin, Central Islip's boys soccer team made its first appearance in a county final.

Jasmin, who usually plays defense, rose to the occasion in that game. He swarmed after every loose ball. He won nearly every ball in the air. He dedicated himself to making sure Smithtown West would never score in that game. And they didn't. But, after a scoreless draw, Smithtown West advanced on penalty kicks.

Despite the crushing loss, Jasmin, who was named to the All-Long Island team, was recognized as one of the county's best.

"He's a special player," Smithtown West coach Tom Lips said after the game.

Still, Jasmin was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. So before the start of this season, Jasmin delivered an uncharacteristic message to Velez. "He told me, 'Coach, I'm ready to step up as captain for this season,' " Velez said.

Now, Jasmin isn't quiet about what he wants.

Said Jasmin, "I want to win the league, the county and the state."

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