Teen’s Dreams of Professional Soccer Almost Shattered – Twice, Awarded PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Week
PHOENIX, Ariz. (April 15, 2011) – Luis Manta of Chandler has been selected as the PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Week. Manta is also eligible for the PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Year and Fan Fave Comeback Student Athlete of the Year awards, which will be handed out at a banquet in May 2011. The awards honor outstanding young athletes who have returned to athletic competition after receiving treatment for an injury, illness, or physical limitation.
Winners of the two end-of-year awards – the PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Year and the Fan Fave Comeback Student Athlete of the Year – will receive $2,500 and $2,000 respectively in scholarship money. The winners’ athletics programs will also be given a cash grant of $1,000.
Manta, 16, is a sophomore at Hamilton High School and has been playing soccer his entire life.
“My dad was born in Uruguay, home of the first World Cup in 1930 and a country where soccer is everything,” said Manta. “My dad’s passion for soccer was passed on to me at a young age.”
At the age of 2, Manta began playing soccer with his dad and joined his first recreational team when he was just 4 years old. At the age of 6, Manta was playing competitively for an elite soccer club with boys older than him. A starting forward, midfielder and fullback, Manta has been a state champion for four years and even traveled to Sweden with the Arizona Olympic Development team in 2007, where his team placed 8th of 122 teams from all over the world in the Gothia Cup tournament.
In 2008, Manta experienced his first of two major setbacks when he was kicked by another player, which instantly broke his tibia and fibula and displaced his ankle. In order to repair his leg, he needed a metal plate and pin to hold the bones together. Worried there might be damage to the growth plate, Manta underwent intense treatments and was forced to be in a wheelchair for a month followed by a walking boot for another three months.
Despite intense physical therapy, the injury combined with pneumonia forced Manta to miss the rest of the 2007-08 season, which included a trip to the Dallas Cup Tournament and the Far West Regionals Championship in Hawaii.
Manta returned to the field nine months later and assumed the worst was behind him. However, two years after the first incident, Manta was playing in a state league game and was kicked in the leg from behind. The kick was so hard it broke Manta’s tibia behind the metal plate in his leg, and left Manta sidelined the first half of his high school season.
Since the injuries, Manta has been a state champion twice, won two Far West regional league titles, was a finalist in regions, been selected for the Arizona Olympics Development team, won two college showcase tournaments, was selected as an MVP for the University of Notre Dame, was invited to the South Bend summer invitational soccer camp, was a 5A-1 High School Varsity finalist, and won the U.S. Club regionals, earning him a spot on the U.S. Club National Championship.
In addition to the many athletic MVP awards Manta has received, he also excels academically as a member of the National Honor Society.
Looking ahead, Manta would like to play soccer for a Division I university with a respected academic and soccer program and ultimately be a professional soccer player in Europe. Mantas’ Comeback story was featured on KPNX Channel 12’s Friday Night Fever.
Click here to check out Luis Mantas’ Comeback video.
About the Comeback Student Athlete of the Week
Phoenix Children's Hospital Sports Medicine Program has launched the second season of the Comeback Student Athlete of the Year which honors outstanding young athletes between the ages of 8 and 18 who have returned to athletic competition after receiving treatment for an injury, illness, or physical limitation. Nominees have the chance of being chosen as the “Comeback Student Athlete of the Week” and highlighted on Channel 12’s Friday Night Fever or Today Show Saturday. Nominees are also eligible for the PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Year and Fan Fave Comeback Student Athlete of the Year awards, which will be handed out at a banquet in May 2011. Nominations are no longer being accepted. For more information, visit www.comebackathlete.azcentral.com.
About Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Phoenix Children’s Hospital is Arizona’s only licensed children’s hospital, providing world-class care in more than 40 pediatric specialties to children from throughout the state and region. Though Phoenix Children’s is one of the ten largest freestanding children’s hospitals in the country, it is in the midst of a major expansion to meet the needs of the Southwest’s rapid population growth. The signature element of the expansion is a new 11-story, 750,000-square-foot tower which will enable the hospital to grow from 345 licensed beds today to a total of 626 licensed beds once the project is complete. The hospital’s expansion also includes an aggressive physician recruitment effort and new satellite centers in high growth areas of the Valley. For more information, visit the hospital’s website at www.phoenixchildrens.com.