Toro Alumni Playing Professionallycsudhbulletin April 30, 2021 0 COMMENTS
Tony Alfaro made 75 appearances for the Toros and has signed a deal through 2021 with DC United. Photo courtesy of Toros Athletics.
By Jeremy Gonzalez, Co-Sports Editor
Many outstanding student-athletes have donned the Toros cardinal and gold uniforms during their short time at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Their success during their collegiate careers is remembered in the record books and etched forever in Toro athletics lore. But what happens once they leave CSUDH?
For some athletes, their careers end here as they begin to start a new chapter in their life linked to the degree they received from the school. For others, CSUDH was just a stepping stone as they elect to continue their careers professionally.
Here are four big-time Toro alumni that are continuing their careers in their respective sports:
As a Toro, Pillar donned the Toros baseball uniform from 2008-2011 before graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was a standout performer in the outfield for the Toros, being named as an Honorable Mention All-American in 2010 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Pillar is remembered as the current NCAA D2 record holder for most consecutive games with a hit at 54 that was completed in 2010.
His big break came in 2011 when he was drafted in the 32nd round of the MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. After rising through the minor leagues, Pillar made his major league debut in August 2013 and quickly made headlines by appearing on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays with a stellar defensive catch just days later.
His first full season with the Blue Jays (2015) resulted in him being a finalist for the Gold Glove award in center field before being named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year.
After stints with the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies, Pillar signed a one-year contract earlier this year with the New York Mets, where he has appeared in eight games and is batting .143 in the young season.
Kamara played for the CSUDH men’s soccer team during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, earning an All-American honor as well as two First-Team All-Region and two First-Team All-CCAA honors, after earning the CCAA MVP nod as a freshman. He was eventually taken ninth overall in the 2006 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew.
He had successful stints with the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City before being signed on loan to Norwich City in England where he had the opportunity to play in the English Premier League. His best season in the pros was in 2015 when he was the joint top scorer in the MLS with 24 goals for the Columbus Crew.
Kamara, who turns 36 in September, ranks fifth all-time in the MLS scoring chart with 130 regular-season goals and 47 assists. A scorer for a record eight MLS clubs, he’s one of the most fearsome aerial presences the league has ever seen and has shown a knack for mentoring younger players.
He is currently a free agent striker after playing out his most recent contract with Minnesota United that ended in 2020 but could likely get a call to sign for a team soon. He most recently played for his native Sierra Leone in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers last month during the international break.
Smith featured regularly for the Toros men’s basketball team when he played under coach Steve Becker from 2018-2020. As a junior, Smith led the team in assists with 69 while being named All-CCAA Honorable Mention. He was named to the All-CCAA Second Team his senior year, averaging 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
After graduating in 2020, Smith signed a contract to play with the Grevenbroich Elephants in Germany and most recently played in the 2021 Men’s Dallas Eurobasket Summer League that took place April 9-11, where he featured in all three games for Team Athens and averaged 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and one steal per game.
Smith will continue to play in the ESL throughout the rest of April and May, with stops scheduled in Atlanta (April 16-18), Indianapolis (April 30-May 2), Philadelphia (May 7-9) and Las Vegas (May 14-16).
The 6-foot-2 defender enjoyed a senior year with the Toros, establishing himself as an anchor on the Toros backline which led to him being named as the CCAA Defensive Player of the Year and being named as a First-Team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
His success in a Toro uniform led to the Seattle Sounders selecting him 27th overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, joining Kamara as another Toro to be taken in the draft. He registered 24 appearances for the Sounders before joining Mexican club Chivas in 2019, though he failed to make an appearance for them.
Alfaro was without a club this winter after making 11 appearances for Reno 1868 in the USL Championship, but was signed by MLS-side DC United earlier this month. He was named to the starting 11 in the team’s season opener against New York City FC and will continue suiting up for DC United for the remainder of the season.