Flanked right and left by his soccer teammates and comrades, Verbum Dei varsity goalie junior Jose Gutierrez (back row, right of center, in grey) recovers at home from injury sustained January 16. Image by Jovanni Gonzalez, Assistant Soccer Coach
By Rafael Villalobos, Staff Writer
Verbum Dei varsity soccer goalkeeper Jose Gutierrez was terribly injured during Pius X Matthias rival game on Wednesday, January 16.
The fateful game was played away on a cold rainy night – one that would decide the Santa Fe League championship. Verbum Dei and St. Pius X Matthias battled on the soggy artificial turf for eighty minutes. Ultimately, Verb lost 4-1, and Gutierrez left the field seriously injured.
Gutierrez underwent a three-hour surgery on January 30, at Children’s Hospital. Surgeons installed a plate in his ankle, nine bolts, and a rubber band to help heal and restore his ligament.
The injury and treatment have forced Gutierrez to miss school for an estimated three weeks, but has kept up with most of his classes. Junior Christian Perez volunteered to be the courier to keep Gutierrez as current with his schoolwork as possible.
Gutierrez, at age 3, was diagnosed with hemophilia, an inherited medical condition. The disorder affects the ability of blood to clot, a mechanism which stems the flow of blood from internal and external trauma. Hemophiliacs can bleed severely when injured.
The start of the game began competitively with Verbum Dei and St. Matthias battling heavily. Early in the match, Pius Matthias scored a goal causing Gutierrez to challenge the play. This valiant defensive effort resulted in a fracture of his left fibula.
The 2018-2019 season was the beginning of Gutierrez’s goalkeeping career. In the previous season, the varsity squad lost both of its goalkeepers. Thus, at the start of the season, varsity did not have any goalkeepers, so Gutierrez took the initiative and stepped up to the plate which helped the varsity team prosper.
“I would say, having to recover from this event is not hard or easy, but it is a test of how much faith and strength one may have,” said Gutierrez. “Luckily, I was able to receive the best treatment possible, which makes my recovery process a bit easier. The unfortunate event made realize how blessed I am to have been able to walk before the accident and eventually to walk again after my recovery.”
“It is now difficult to do things that I was able to do on a daily basis,” said Gutierrez. “I was able to do hard things like chores and simple ones like walking my dog or playing with my niece, but other than that, I am very blessed to still be here today and to enjoy another day of life.”
“I wouldn’t say we lost Jose because he is still part of our team; however, not having him present at our games is unfortunate,” said assistant coach Edwin Suro. “Jose is a big team motivator and always pushes the boys to do better.”
“This tragic event has made other players step up like [sophomore] Jonathan Ayala and [junior Adrian Ramirez],” said Suro, assistant soccer coach. “I truly believe that they know what it means to play in Jose’s spot, and they have not failed to represent Jose’s attitude and enthusiasm for the game.”
Coach Rosa experienced a similar injury in high school, said Suro, and it truly hurts him to see one of his players go down in such a way that he can relate.
“As coaches, we have been missing Jose, but we know we need to do our best to motivate the team and to keep them going because the game of soccer at Verb is more than just a game,” said Suro.
Gutierrez offered some sage advice to his VDHS brothers and comrades.
“For my [fellow] Verbum Dei students and teammates,” said Guiterrez. “Don’t let an accident or an obstacle stop your process or what you want to achieve because it’s simply something to be overcome.”