Boys soccer

Mysterious ailment produces breakout soccer season for Hebron's Blank

2012-08-29T17:30:00Z 2012-08-30T23:49:10Z Mysterious ailment produces breakout soccer season for Hebron's BlankJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
August 29, 2012 5:30 pm  • 

An undiagnosed ailment erased this cross country season for Hebron's Brad Blank, but the Hawks' sophomore found solace on the soccer pitch.

Blank has five goals in three games as an outside midfielder/striker for the Hawks (2-1).

"This has actually been a huge perk for me," Blank said. "It's kept my spirits up."

Blank played soccer until sixth grade, then focused on cross country. The focus shifted back to soccer when an unknown ailment disrupted each of Blank's prep cross country seasons.

Blank said the possible virus causes extreme muscle fatigue in his legs when he attempts to run long distances.

"I didn't have a problem with track (last season)," said Blank, who ran middle distances. "I thought it was gone, then it came back as I tried to put on the miles for cross country this offseason.

"It was frustrating to keep getting knocked down."

Blank and his family are awaiting results from a recent blood test for the cause.

"We've done a lot of research," Blank said, "and nothing seems to stick."

Blank did attend a few summer soccer practices while he still kept up his hopes for cross country. He then changed over to soccer in early August.

"I really didn't know what to expect," he said.

Hebron head coach Zejlko Mijatovic saw promise in the sophomore.

"He's got a nose for the ball," Mijatovic said. "He gets in the right position at the right time.

"He's a fighter. He never gives up."

Blank is just happy to be playing a sport, and he's not about to gloat about his success.

"You've got to look at the whole picture; it's not about one guy," he said.

Blank added that teammates like classmate Richie Votts have helped to cultivate his soccer game.

"I'm learning how to finish better, how to keep the ball down and direct things," Blank said. "Some of these guys have played travel ball, and their help has been invaluable."

At this point, Blank prefers to play striker --  which doesn't involve as much distance running -- but it's not a strict demand.

"I'll play wherever they ask me," Blank said. "I can get breaks out there, and that helps a ton.

"I can usually tell when it's coming on -- and I just have to rest. I haven't had a problem yet (with soccer)."

Blank doesn't know if he'll continue to play, but it remains a distinct possibility.

"It's just a blast right now; I love these guys," he said. "I might stick with it."

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