In the case of Portage senior center midfielder Donovan Cole, statistics don't truly explain his abilities on the soccer pitch.
Cole was recently selected to play in the High School All-American Soccer Game on Dec. 10 in Birmingham, Ala. Cole is just one of 36 players nationally -- one of four from Indiana -- to play in the contest.
I've always thought highly of Cole, especially the way he played a crucial role in the Indians' back-to-back semistate appearances as a sophomore and junior.
However, Portage (6-10-1) struggled this season and lost in the opening round of the Class 2A Valparaiso Sectional. Cole finished with just a goal and nine assists.
Indians coach Todd Strom said a deeper look is needed to truly understand Cole's influence on the field.
"Stats wise, he didn't have as great of a season. He was double- or triple-teamed every game," Strom said. "He might not give the final pass, but he dictated our play.
"He's one of the best to ever have come out of Portage High School. We didn't have 11 top-notch players (during the semistate runs), but he was able to raise our team's level and a big reason for our success."
Area coaches agreed, because they were the main reason for his reappearance on The Times All-Area team.
I'm glad to see that stats aren't always the key to analyzing one's talents. For his career, Cole had 24 goals and 27 assists. For the past two years he's been a Second Team All-State pick.
Cole's selection to a national game certainly opened my eyes. He found out the news Thanksgiving morning, and he was also caught off guard.
"I was pretty surprised," he said. "My dad (DJ) told me to, 'Start training right now.' I'm pretty excited to have this chance to play with some of the best players in the nation.
"I didn't think my high school season ended the way I would've liked, and now I have a chance to prove myself even more."
Cole was informed that he was on the nominating list around the start of the soccer season, and he didn't travel to a site for a tryout. Obviously, his play and the opinions of others spoke volumes.
"It makes me feel pretty good that people feel so highly about me," Cole said. "It just wasn't about how my team was doing."
Cole has received some interest from NAIA and NCAA Division III schools, but he hopes this game might give him a chance to play at a higher level.
"I would love to play in a challenging league," Cole said. "I'd love to play Division I, and maybe this will help me get there.
"This is definitely the biggest thing that has ever happened to me."
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.