Prep Soccer

Xavier's Will Hanigan finds faith on soccer's sideline

HS journalism: Back injury ends his career, but starts another

Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Will Hanigan, winding up for a kick against Iowa Falls-Alden-AGWSR’s Jacob Beadle in last year’s Class 2A state semifinals, is helping coach the Saints this year after a back injury ended his playing career and his dreams. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Will Hanigan, winding up for a kick against Iowa Falls-Alden-AGWSR’s Jacob Beadle in last year’s Class 2A state semifinals, is helping coach the Saints this year after a back injury ended his playing career and his dreams. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — I have heard all the time God has a plan and no matter what happens, you need to trust it.

This was easy to do for most of my life, mostly because everything I wanted to happen, pretty much happened. I had friends, decent grades, the soccer scholarship I had always dreamed of and had a large part of my life planned out perfectly in my head.

I would now say this is a very dangerous thing to do and I would warn people against it, because God has his own plan for you.

There are no guarantees no matter what you do. God’s plan is going to happen.

I have always played soccer and it was my dream to play at a Division I school, and later professionally. I was determined to make this happen and worked harder than anyone else I knew to make this a reality. Despite a slew of injuries in my high school career, I finally got my Division I scholarship to a great school and my plan was going perfectly.

This, however, is all in the past now.

After suffering yet another back injury and having significant pain for over six months, my parents and I decided I needed surgery to relieve my pain and fix my back. I emailed the coach of the school I was planning to attend and, unfortunately, was told they would have to move on to a different player. I wasn’t worth the risk considering there was no guarantee my back would heal.

The feeling of having a dream I worked so incredibly hard for all of my life destroyed is not one I would wish on anyone. Couple this with the fact I had no real backup plan for my life, I was completely lost. I didn’t feel like I had any worth or talents in other areas of my life, and I really didn’t know what I would do.

Those few months this past fall were some of the lowest points I have ever felt.

Eventually I moved on, applied to new colleges and, with the help of a few people I am very close to, I began to make a new plan for myself. I still, however, failed to realize God makes the plan, not me. In my new plan, I could play my final season at Xavier, win a state title and feel like I had accomplished enough to satisfy myself. However, at the end of March, after getting a scan on my back to check my progress, I learned my injury had only partly healed, and I most likely wouldn’t be able to play my final season.

There would be no final blaze of glory.

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My heart is very heavy. I’m most likely not going to be able to do the thing I love so much ever again in a competitive sense, and I still don’t understand what God wants me to do with my life. I feel angry and wronged. But I also know these are the wrong emotions because clearly God has something else in store for me.

Through a lot of contemplation, I have begun to find some positives and optimism for the future. I get to attend Iowa next year with all my friends and stay much closer to my family. I hopefully won’t have to deal with pain every day anymore and I have even found a new love — coaching. With all of my time spent injured, my coach has trusted me to begin coaching practice and always asks me for my input on the team and what he should do.

It is very rewarding and, without planning it out too much in my head (this clearly has not worked in the past), I have found something I can love as much as playing.

God has thrown me a lot this year. As I have said, my emotions toward Him have been far from positive. I have learned what God has planned will happen, and I can’t change that. I can only make the most of what He gives me.

I hope those reading this realize not everything will go their way in life, but they can persevere through whatever God throws at them.

He only wants what is best for us.

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