Thursday, January 5, 2012

Virginia High School Soccer Player Wins Insperium Soccer Award

by Jeff Fisher
Host, NHSCA Sports Hour

The best way to view Christian Metzler of Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Woodbridge, Virginia is through his ability, not his disability.

Metzler is an all-state soccer goalkeeper who has excelled on the soccer pitch, even though he plays with a prothstetic right leg. Metzler, who is an inspiration to his teammates, his peers and members of his community, is the winner of the inaugural Insperium Soccer Awards.

Metzler, who was ranked third in the state in saves-per-game, was named the nation's most inspirational soccer player out of over 250 young men and women who were nominated.

"Christian is successfully juggling a demanding schedule with his high school commitments," said Henry Montague, head coach of Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School. "His athletic achievements are clearly noteworthy, but are truly remarkable for an athlete with only one God-given leg. Christian is the consummate inspirational leader of other student athletes and is most deserving of this award.”

Metzler gives generously of his time to various organizations including the Walter Reed and Bethesda Medical Centers where he mentors amputees and injured servicemen as part of the Wounded Warrior Program, and works as a peer counselor for disabled youth and their families.

“I hear many others say, ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’” said Metzler of his volunteerism at Walter Reed. On one occasion, he was helping a new patient come to terms with the loss of his limbs, and he joked with the patient about the experience of going to the beach and getting sand in his prosthesis. “His face lit up and that was really the best - that’s when I realized that I am really making a difference in the lives of these guys.”

As the winner of the Inspireum Soccer Awards, Metzler will be presented a $7,500 academic scholarship at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s convention on January 14th.

The Trusted Sports Foundation provides $25,000 in academic scholarships to the 12 finalists for the Insperium Soccer Awards.

Three Runners-up will each receive a $2,500 academic scholarship.

The Runners-up include Tara McNaught of Lakewood, California, who spends hours each day undergoing breathing treatments to overcome Cystic Fibrosis in order to be part of her high school and club soccer teams; Humberto Alvarez of Medford, Oregon, who sacrificed his junior year season when he donated bone marrow to save his five year old brother who has leukemia; and Michael Cooper of Blackwood, New Jersey, who uses soccer to rehabilitate his two autistic brothers and overcome his own battle with Crohn’s disease.

The Winner and Runners-up were determined by the National Selection Committee comprised of Awards Chairman Steve Sampson, and U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, as well as many other well-known soccer personalities. April Heinrichs, a former U.S. Women’s National Team player and coach, and the first woman inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame is serves on the committee, as well as Lynn Berling-Manuel, Chief Marketing Officer of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and Andres Cantor, whose famous call, “GOOOOAAALLLL!” will be the new hallmark of the upcoming World Cup broadcast in the U.S. The committee voted for the nominees who they feel most inspire others, and who best represent the values of character, courage, contribution, and commitment.

Two Fan Favorites were also selected by online “fan” vote, with each to receiving a $2,000 academic scholarship. One female, Maritza Valdespino, and one male, Eric Arsenault, have been named the Fan Favorites.

Valdespino of Houston, Texas hails from a low-socioeconomic, inner-city area, but overcame every barrier and stereotype to excel to the utmost, both academically and athletically. Arsenault, of Lake Worth, Florida, underwent the removal of a tumor on his spine and implantation of metal rods to stabilize him. Although it took several years, Eric re-learned how to bend, walk and move before he made his way back to the soccer field.

Winning a $1,000 academic scholarship were: Becca Lidvall of Lakewood, Colorado; Lauren Luke of Mukilteo, Washington; Brock Marvin of Elizabethtown, New York; Gaela Normile of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Sam Porter of Gresham, Oregeon; and Gonzalo Vasquez of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Cooper and Luke will be guests on Thursday night's NHSCA Sports Hour starting at 6 P.M. Eastern Time.  Metzler will join me on the January 12th show.

Click here to listen to the NHSCA Sports Hour LIVE.

Each athlete's full story can be viewed at

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