celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Mind over bones and ligaments

Injury-prone athlete excels

By 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.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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