One of Sam Koimene's childhood memories was going to his uncle's house to get away from a war in Liberia.
The harrowing experience inspired Koimene to dedicate his life to working for peace.
"I feel a calling," the Central York High School senior said during the Panthers' track-and-field practice on Wednesday afternoon. "Running from different wars, I learned from that whole procedure. I want to inspire youth that there is a much better way than violence."
Koimene plans to attend Liberty (Va.) University, next year and study youth ministry. He will be following in the footsteps of his parents, who are both preachers.
The parents hold a weekly fellowship at a church in Red Lion. They did ministry work in Liberia before coming to the United States. The Koimenes settled first in Boston and then moved to York when Koimene and his brother, Angelo, were starting middle school.
Angelo, who's also a senior at Central and a member of the Panthers' track-and-field team, is planning to enroll at Kutztown University next year. His goal is to become a physical trainer.
The brothers are extremely close -- on and off the track.
"They work out together, and they watch over one another and take care of one another," Central head coach Chris Detwiler said. "If we have a trip to make somewhere, each one makes sure the other one has everything packed."
The Koimenes are different when it comes to personality.
"Sam is very serious, and Angelo is more comedic," Detwiler said. "They're both great athletes. They played soccer and sort of found track and field."
The Koimenes are sprinters. Sam's favorite event is the 100-meter dash, while Angelo prefers the 200-meter dash.
"We're always competitive come game time, but after that we're just brothers," Angelo Koimene said. "The 200 is my favorite event because I have time to accelerate and work on some things in the middle of a race. The 100 is kind of short, and there's no time to make up for anything."
Sam loves the shorter distance of the 100. He set the school record in the event this season with an outstanding time of 10.59 seconds.
"It has more explosiveness and quickness, and I like that," he said. "You don't have much time to get to recover if you fall behind."
Sam agreed there is a brotherly rivalry on the track.
"It's mostly inside of us," he said. "He looks at me, and I look at him, and then the gun goes off."
The Koimenes are part of the Panthers' 400-meter relay team and 1,600-meter relay team with Jay Stone and Marquis Fells. The four have recorded the York-Adams League's best times this season in the relays, :42.79 in the 400 and 3:29.93 in the 1600.
"We push each other," Sam Koimene said. "If someone is slacking, we say, 'come on man, we have to do this.'"
The Koimenes are both hoping to close their careers with medals at the PIAA State Track and Field Championships. After that, they'll most likely be heading off in opposite directions to college.
"We'll definitely keep in touch," Sam Koimene said. "We're pretty close. He's pretty much all I had through all the travels together to different places and countries. (The Koimenes had to first travel to Ghana and the Ivory Coast before leaving for the United States).
"It was a big transition coming to this country. Things people take for granted here, you don't take for granted in Africa because you don't have that much."
Sam plans to travel wherever his ministry takes him. Possibly even back to his native Africa.
Reach Dick VanOlinda at dvanolinda@yorkdis patch.com.