WEEK 7 GAMES
DeLand at West Palm Beach Oxbridge
Oviedo at University, 7 p.m.
Celebration at Halifax Academy, 7 p.m.
Bell at Taylor, 7 p.m.
Father Lopez at Interlachen, 7 p.m.
Flagler Palm Coast at Palatka, 7 p.m.
Warner Christian at Winter Park Trinity Prep, 7 p.m.
Bradenton Christian at Trinity Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Mainland at Ohio Lakewood St. Edward, 2 p.m.
DELTONA — Hansley Pluviose was born in Haiti, but only has vague memories of his time there. After all, he migrated to the United States at age 5.
But the one thing the Pine Ridge senior recalls about his native land is the level of everyday violence that took place there during his early childhood. It’s the reason he and his family fled their home in 2003.
Pluviose’s father, Jacques, sought political asylum in the U.S. and arrived in Miami on a mid-sized commercial boat in July 2001. A little more than two years later, Hansley, his mother, Heleine, and his three older brothers (Mously, Jacques Wildy and Helou) joined Jacques in their new home.
Jacques, formerly an elementary school teacher, escaped persecution by a leftist political party known as the Fanmi Lavalas. The party’s leader was former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was removed from power in a coup d’etat in 2004.
Jacques refused to work for, or vote for, the party.
“My life was in danger,” he said. “If I didn’t leave quickly, and they found me, I would be dead.”
Asylum, or protection, can be sought in the United States for persecution or fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. If a person is granted asylum, he or she may petition to bring a spouse and children — under the age of 21 and unmarried — into the country, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website.
As he’s gotten older, Hansley has heard the stories in “bits and pieces,” mostly from his mother.
“It’s helped me realize that I have to live every day like it’s my last,” Hansley said.
Sports have always been an outlet for Hansley. He took up soccer, Haiti’s most popular sport, as a child. Brothers Mously and Jacques Wildy played for the Panthers’ varsity team a decade ago.
He also tried his hand at basketball after hitting his growth spurt. But eventually, he fell in love with football, though his parents did not initially approve for fear of injury.
Before his junior year, Hansley began lifting weights with Pine Ridge coach Bob Goebel at 6 a.m. each day. He quickly earned a spot on the team and became the Panthers’ starting running back and strongside linebacker.
However, Pluviose has missed significant time in each of his two seasons. Last October, he fractured his left ankle and sat out two of the Panthers’ final three games. This year, he missed the team’s first three games due to academic ineligibility.
Since his return, Pluviose has rushed for 61 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown and made four tackles. The Panthers (2-4) are in the midst of their bye week and will host Deltona on Oct. 16.
“Football-wise … he’s still very raw, but he’s just oozing with athletic ability,” Goebel said.
Goebel only recently learned of Pluviose’s background, but he has a special appreciation for it. Long before becoming a football coach in Volusia County, Goebel served four years as a specialist in the United States Army. He lived in Haiti for six months in 1994 during Operation Uphold Democracy, which restored Aristide to power after a negotiated settlement between U.S. General Hugh Shelton and Haitian Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras.
“There was a lot of poverty, a lot of poor, hungry kids,” Goebel said. “Great people. I loved helping out down there, but you were definitely struck by the poverty and all of the problems that occurred and still occur down there.”
Despite all of the adversity he and his family has faced, Hansley remains proud of his heritage. It’s a chapter of his life, someday, he may choose to revisit.
“I’d like to visit whenever I can because I feel it’s still part of my roots,” he said. “I’d like to go back, visit all the people we left and get back in touch.”