By Nathan Duke
The friends of a Bayside High School student from Nigeria who died while playing soccer last week ï»¿recalled the 17-year-old as hardworking and friendly during his funeral Monday.
Samuel Olatayo Owoeye, 17, of Queens Village died July 5 ï»¿during soccer practice, but the cause of his death was unclear. The Bayside HS student was a member of the school’s team, but had also played for the Little Neck Hurricanes.
At the time of his death, Owoeye and members of the Hurricanes had been taking part in an unofficial practice near his home, said Sandy Parise, coach for the Little Neck Hurricanes.
“He was very eager and very disciplined, a wonderful human being,” she said. “We were very proud to have him on our team.”
Parise said Owoeye, who would have been a junior in the fall, and his family had emigrated a few years ago from Nigeria to Queens Village. His family and friends celebrated his life during a funeral at the Queens Reformed Church on Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village Monday.
“What I remember most about him is that he was always smiling,” said Zakiyyah Toval, 18, of Springfield Gardens. “He was always bringing people up.”
Hamid Madani, 18, of Bayside said Owoeye had played as a forward on his high school team and eventually wanted to play the sport on Nigeria’s team.
“He liked to learn and always tried his best in everything,” Madani said. “He smiled a lot and never had a problem with anybody.”
A wake and funeral were held at the Queens Village church Monday morning and a burial was scheduled for the afternoon in New Jersey.
Claraetta Drayton, of the 185th-186th Street Tenant Association, said Owoeye’s family had attended the association’s meetings. The family had lived on 186th Street in Queens Village for just under a year, she said.
Danielle Edwards, 18, of Springfield Gardens said she became friends with Owoeye after sharing the same route home every day.
“We always took the same bus home,” she said. “He was a very happy person.”
Kathy Kmiotek said the soccer player had worked hard in school and on the field.
“It must have been hard for him to move here and get acclimated,” said Kathy Kmiotek, whose daughter, Nicole, sat next to Owoeye at Bayside HS. “He was a really hardworking young man. He was a really good kid.”
She said donations were collected for Omoeye’s family to help pay for the funeral.
Joe Corrado, Owoeye’s coach at Bayside HS, said the soccer player was a “gentleman at 16 years old.”
“He will never be forgotten, that’s for sure,” he said.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.