Sports Person of the Week
Avila's Ankle Injury Couldn't Stop His Six-Goal Spurt for Morgan
Morgan freshman soccer player Juan Avila suffered a preseason ankle injury to his left shooting foot, but he has played through the pain and scored six goals during a five-game stretch for the Huskies. (Photo courtesy of Juan Avila)
Soccer is the only sport Juan Avila has played throughout his life and that pitch passion helped ignite a strong early-season scoring surge for the Morgan rookie forward.
The Huskies' freshman injured his left ankle in a preseason jamboree at Hale-Ray when he was sandwiched between two opposing players while challenging for a loose ball. While he battled through practice sessions, a temporary break from action, and even playing equipment adjustments, Juan netted six goals in a five-game stretch for Morgan and has tallied seven goals through its first 10 games.
"The injury did a lot to me as I couldn't practice as much to get better," says Juan, whose Huskies won their first game during that run with a 4-1 victory versus Portland that saw him net two tallies. "It was just the teamwork that helped me because the team makes me feel comfortable to do my best and score."
Juan adds that the rehabilitation process brought many highs, lows, and changes, yet he was determined to not let the injury become a crutch for himself or his team's progress.
"I try to practice every day as much as I can because I just can't stop playing soccer," Juan says. "I took a week off from playing, but the ankle got worse when I played. I had coaches wrap it with tape, but then that became uncomfortable so I got a brace and actually started wearing braces on both ankles. When I focus on playing, I forget the pain and push myself to play through it and it won't be a reason to stop me from my accomplishments."
The freshman also had to fight through the anxiety of being a new face admist a large cast of athletes, although he explains those same players helped him earn his spot on the roster with confidence.
"I was nervous since my first game in summer league soccer because I was a freshman and the team knew I was doing good last year, plus I knew I was going to be on a bigger team," says Juan. "It was difficult, but my teammates told me after every game to forget about last year and just worry about this year."
Head Coach Ross Demay states that Juan has exceeded first-year expectations while acting like a seasoned veteran around his mates.
"Juan started the season off slow, but he has come on strong," says Demay. "Although young, Juan is really stepping up and becoming a leader of this team both on the field and off. Staying humble, he always seeks the win instead of the individual stats and always is pushing himself to get better."
Juan says the Huskies treat each other as equals on and off the turf and that their camaraderie will pave the way to championship-level feats in the future.
"We connect with each other, support each other, and no one is above anybody here," says Juan, who thanks Coach Demay and his teammates. "This year is good for all of us because we know that in years to come that we will be a good team. There will be bigger opponents, but we know we can beat anyone and that will help us going forward."