Kenya to Kansas: Topeka West’s Njoroge credits sports for helping adjust to life in the U.S.

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 9:50 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Few people can keep up with Lenny Njoroge.

“Energy-wise? I’m full of energy,” Lenny said. “I can run all over the field, up and down. The next day I can go to cross country and race. I got all the energy in the world.”

The Topeka West sophomore splits the fall season between two sports, spending half of his time running cross country and the other half playing soccer.

“He never runs out of energy," Josh Kutter, Topeka West’s varisty soccer head coach, said.

“He pretty much bounces around all the time," cross country coach, Donnie Palmer, added.

Lenny’s American dream started when his dad moved to the U.S. from Kenya in 2009.

Eight years later, Lenny joined him.

“I was so excited to come here," Lenny said. "And then when I did, it was a whole new world.”

“United States has a lot of opportunities, and I think he has a good opportunity to be successful," Francis Kimani, Lenny’s dad, said. "He can do a lot of things here.”

“He tells me he just wants me to have a better future and America has more opportunities for me to be better and become a better person," Lenny said.

But the transition wasn’t always easy.

“English was really hard for me at first, I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I was the shy kid,” Lenny said.

Besides the language barrier, Lenny didn’t know anyone in the U.S. other than his dad.

So, for the first time in his life, Lenny joined an organized sports team.

“Then I got introduced to sports, and that’s when everything took off," Lenny said. “I meet new people, learn new languages like Spanish. The more people you meet, the easier it gets.”

Now, Lenny hopes the very thing that helped ease the burden of his transition to a new country will pave the path for his future.

“My dad tells me to work hard in both sports, and work in everything. So I try to work in both sports as hard as I can. It don’t matter if I have a game tomorrow, race tomorrow. I work hard and I push myself to the limit," Lenny said. “As I train and as I run and as I work out, I hope I get better and the scholarship comes through.”

“I’m proud of Lenny," Francis said. "I see him working hard.”

For Lenny, sports aren’t just about the destination — they’re about the journey that got him where he is today.

“If it wasn’t for sports, I don’t know where I’d be. I’d still be that shy kid, you know?" Lenny said. "I feel happy when I run cross country and soccer. I’m like in a whole other world. Happiness comes through me.”

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