How an Orphan From Ethiopia Became a U.S. Air Force Academy Soccer Signee at Tadias Magazine

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Kobey Stoup, who is adopted from Ethiopia, came to America when he was five years old. This year he was recruited  by the U.S. Air Force Academy as a Soccer player. (Photo: courtesy of Mary Stoup)

Montgomery Advertiser

How an orphan from Ethiopia who lived in Montgomery became an Air Force Academy soccer signee

One of the things Kobey Stoup remembers about his childhood in Ethiopia is the process of picking up new dialects. He and his mom bounced across the region and had to quickly learn. Even then, he had a tendency to hang back and watch, his mom pressing him to be more vocal.

But he adjusted and adapted.

“I’m kind of used to moving around,” Stoup said.

His childhood gave him perspective, even if he didn’t realize it at the time. It helped him when he was a 5-year-old orphan who was adopted by Mary and Mark Stoup and moved to the United States. Mark, a retired Air Force colonel and a civilian working at Maxwell Air Force Base, and Mary have four biological daughters and one adopted son, but Mary realized she wanted another after a trip to Ethiopia. They now have three adopted children.

They’ve always been impressed with how Kobey has handled new locales as the military family moved repeatedly through the South. Through it all he’s had soccer, playing originally on a concrete court at his orphanage with crumbled trash shaped into a ball. Now, Stoup is preparing for his next step with the Air Force Academy, where he’ll play right back.

“I may have understood (the move) at the time,” Kobey said. “It’s hard to explain. It just felt right. I don’t really remember.”

One of his first memories of the U.S. was seeing the bright lights from the plane in the airport hangar. He’s learned English from his siblings. Playing sports allowed him to narrow his focus…

Kobey Stoup, who is adopated from Ethiopia, came to America when he was five years old. This year he was recruited by the U.S. Air Force Academy as a Soccer player.

He played in the Olympic Development Program and spent some time with the Montgomery Streaks, now known as Alabama FC South. The MLS club Atlanta United contacted him for its developmental academy in Georgia, and Kobey stayed with a host family the last four years.

In a pro environment, though, Kobey noticed things he didn’t like. Some coaches preferred some players over others and the business aspect of sports — injuries, trades, new signees — took his future out of his control.

So he pivoted to college options, earning looks from multiple Division I programs.

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