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Mind over bones and ligaments
Injury-prone athlete excelsBy Terrence Hunley
A torn meniscus, two anterior cruciate ligament tears on the same knee and a spiral ankle fracture.
Caprock High School's Manny Sandoval suffered through all four injuries during his high school days, yet he was able to finish his senior year as an outfielder on the baseball team and wide receiver on the football squad.
"Manny never had a doubt in his mind that he was coming back," Caprock head baseball coach Nathan Gavina said. "It was never a question of if he was going to play again, but when."
Sandoval's first injury came as a sophomore when he tore his ACL and meniscus while playing football.
"My family was always there for me through it all," Sandoval said. "I couldn't give up because I didn't want to disappoint my family."
Soon, he was back at the doctor's office.
"It was only the third day of football two-a-days; I wasn't even wearing a helmet or pads, yet," Sandoval said. "I ran an out route, and I felt the same thing I did before. I tore my ACL for a second time."
Sandoval's second surgery arrived almost one year after he tore his ACL the first time.
After playing through the spring baseball season with no issues, Sandoval again found himself being carted off the field.
The final day of spring football was under way a year ago in May. On one of the final plays, Sandoval was tackled and his right ankle got caught in the turf, breaking it.
"When I looked at my ankle, it was flopped over to the side," Sandoval said. "I didn't think I would ever break my ankle. If anything, I thought it would be my knee again."
Sandoval never let his pain slow him down.
"I knew deep down something was wrong, but mentally I couldn't show it," Sandoval said. "It was hard to run at first. It was tough physically, but mentally I had to be strong enough to just do it."
Sandoval was in his burnt orange and white football uniform by the fall and played for the Longhorns baseball playoff team.
Sandoval not only excelled on the field, but in the classroom and volunteer work.
He spent his high school career on the A-B honor roll while tackling several volunteer activities, including Meals on Wheels and United Way and being a big brother in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.
"I was exhausted," Sandoval said. "It was hard balancing school, athletics and volunteering, but it was worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat."
He put education on top of his list of priorities.
"I think it is important to do well in school," Sandoval said.
He thinks volunteering should be on everyone's to-do list.
"Everyone should volunteer," Sandoval said. "It is great to make someone else's day instead of your own. I did it because I wanted to help someone else out."
Through all the injuries, recovery time, school work and volunteering, Sandoval still found the time to be a leader and a mentor to his teammates.
"It was a new coaching staff, and Manny opened himself up to us and really bought into what we were doing," Caprock football coach Seth Parr said. "He sold the other kids into what we were doing and really brought the program together."
Parr enjoyed coaching Sandoval and hopes to see many more just like him.
"We hope we can coach a lot more Mannys," Parr said. "If we can, then Caprock football will start to see a lot of success."
Celebrate Education is a yearlong community project to encourage lifelong learning and help raise the education level in the Texas Panhandle.
Editor's Note: The Globe-News is profiling a student a day from May 9-29 as part of its 2008 graduation coverage. Students were nominated by Globe-News readers.
Copyright 2008 Amarillo Globe-News :: Amarillo.com