Selman's story not over
Soccer freshman Lexe Selman overcomes battle with leukemia to return to the pitch and make unexpected impact
There is a video on YouTube that is the epitome of inspiration.
In just a little over six minutes of run time, it shares the story of a talented high school soccer player from Utah who, with graduation and an athletic scholarship to play for the Wildcats ahead of her, suddenly learned some devastating and life-altering news.
She had leukemia.
Titled “The Lexe Selman Story,” the video chronicles the journey of Selman’s battle with her sickness and the difficult chemotherapy treatments she was forced to endure. It concludes on a high note with Selman, despite being weakened from her treatment, miraculously scoring a goal for her club team in a game where she was only supposed to make the first kick as a gesture honoring her courage.
Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat Lexe Selman, midfielder, controls the ball after receiving a thrown in during soccer practice Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013.
In reality, though, Selman’s story is just beginning.
“It was always part of my plan to be able to play again,” Selman said. “I’m not sure if anyone else really expected it to happen so quickly.”
With only three games remaining in the 2013 season for Wildcat soccer, Selman has been able to play quite a bit, making appearances in all 17 games so far and as of late finding herself in the starting lineup at midfield — even though she missed all of last year recovering from her illness.
“I’ve learned a lot this season and think I’ve been progressing,” Selman said. “I just came here hoping to get any kind of playing time, and I’ve actually been lucky enough to play more than I thought.”
While she has yet to record a goal for Arizona this year, Selman’s 23 shots are good for fourth on the team and anyone who has seen her play knows she may very well have the most dangerous right foot of the team.
Wildcat head coach Tony Amato said Selman’s talents on the field are sometimes unfairly overlooked.
“I think the most important thing — that gets lost sometimes because of the story of how she was sick and now she is back playing — is how good of a player she is,” Amato said. “She was a top-150 recruit in the nation, according to the rankings, and she is just a real quality player. The key to it all is she is a player deserving to play in the Pac-12 and she is going to just keep getting better.”
Selman, who is a freshman this season, was planning on joining the Wildcats in 2012. However, her diagnosis left her no choice but to stay home in Utah and recover. Selman said the time away from the game was difficult for several reasons, one being losing some of the energy she used to have when playing.
“I think it’s still an ongoing process,” Selman said. “There are some days where, because of what I went through, my energy is not where everyone else is, but overall I’m very pleased with my fitness, and I know I can only go up from here.”
Selman’s teammate and roommate Jaden DeGracie said that beyond being an inspiration, Selman also brings plenty of tenacity to the pitch.
“She’s awesome,” DeGracie said. “You can just tell the desire she has on the field. Every time she steps on, you just know that she is going to make it happen and give her full effort.”
Fans might see Selman’s effort cranked up to another level this Friday, when the Utah Utes make the trip to Tucson to take on the Wildcats. Utah, who is currently third in the Pac-12 standings, is not just another game for Selman, considering how close Salt Lake City is to her hometown of Draper.
“It’s definitely extra motivation,” Selman said. “I know some of the players, and one of their assistant coaches coached me during club, and she even helped me practice when I was trying to come back. I’ve had this one on my calendar for a while.”
However well Selman performs this weekend, or even the rest of her Wildcat career, one thing seems certain: The Lexe Selman story is far from over.
— Follow Brian Peel @BrianPeel91