If you’re told by a coach of a top soccer university outfit that you’re more than welcome to try out for them, but then warned pretty much not to hold your breath if you expect to ever play for said program, what do you do?
Well, if you’re Paul “Whitey” Kapsalis, you try out. And through amazing perseverance and no shortage of hard toil you overcome huge odds and a career-threatening injury to captain the team in your final year of college.
Kapsalis, along with the help of co-author Ted Gregory, tells of his quest to play for national champion Indiana University in the book, “To Chase a Dream” (Meyer & Meyer, 2014).
Originally from Michigan, Kapsalis moved with his family to Carmel, Indiana when he was a sophomore in high school. It was around this time his dream to play for the Hoosiers developed, despite the fact that he had earned a partial scholarship to play at Michigan State.
“They won their national championship in 1982 and again in 1983. I was so mesmerized and just in awe of IU soccer,” he says. “My heart was in Bloomington.”
The 5’5”, 140-pound Kapsalis admits he wasn’t of the caliber required to play at IU. He was a walk-on considered too small to make the squad, much less see any playing time.
He scraped onto the Jerry Yeagley-coached squad in 1983, the 35th man on a 35-man roster.
He was a redshirt in his first year, and saw virtually no time in his second.
However, his unbowed determination to make the team is exemplified in a recount of the time when he broke a metatarsal in his right foot, an injury known as a Jones Fracture, which ruled him out of his entire third year.
It came just when he was showing great improvement in his game brought about by intensive training with his teammate and roommate, John “ Stolly” Stollmeyer.
Now, he was forced to use alternative training methods. While the team practiced next to Armstrong Stadium, he’d exercise – on his crutches.
“I’d jog – more like hobble-jump – on my crutches for two miles around the track,” he reveals. “Eight laps.”
Whatever observers thought of this particular sight, it paid off as he recoverd fully to be made a co-captain in his final year.
“In the end, the dream was better than what I thought it would be,” says Kapsalis.
The book contains many life lessons, but its real message is that if you have a dream, well, chase it.
“If you really believe in something, pursue it. Follow your heart. Do it with passion but without obsession. Be persistent and be patient,” he says.
“To Chase a Dream” is available at amazon.com.