Heart Of A Champion

Competition is always exciting. It pushes an individual to work even harder to succeed. Knowing that there are others after the same thing the goal, you quickly realize that if you wish to be the one that comes out victorious, then you must commit like never before. Such is the passion and desire to succeed in the returning Desert Hills senior, and powerhouse striker, Hunter Spray.

Desert Hills Class of 2016 Soccer 3.4GPA

“Since I was 5 years old soccer has been my first love,” shares Hunter. “I am grateful to have been able to play as much as I have. My dream is to play at the collegiate level as I further my education. Soccer has given me some of the most amazing experiences on and off the field. Since I was young, I have always been more on the shy side,” says Hunter, “and Soccer has opened the door for me to meet some great friends and coaches throughout the years.”

There comes a point and time in everyone’s life that can be looked at as the turning point. When everything changes and life begins to take shape and form, the path that you will forever be set on. For Hunter, that turning point came early in life while living in Alaska. One individual made such a significant impact in Hunter’s life, which he continues to reflect on to this day, was the impact of a true mentor and lifelong friend, his coach, Coach Steve Majestro.

Troy Spray, Hunter’s father, considers the relationship his son has with his coach as an invaluable one. “When Steve found out that Hunter was moving to Southern Utah he gave Hunter a soccer ball that he wrote a note on. Hunter still has the ball and considers it one of his personal trophies. To this day Steve stays in contact with Hunter to see how he is doing.”

Coach Majestro was Hunters P.E. teacher in Alaska and saw something in Hunter as it related to the game of soccer. Coach asked him to come out and see if he liked the game and eventually place Hunter on a competitive soccer team and thus began the young striker’s love for the sport.

With the love of sports comes the desire to compete. Unfortunately with competition comes the risk of injury, and for Hunter that risk because for a time a devastating reality with a silver lining. While playing soccer Hunter was stepped on his foot by an opposing player. Being part of the game Hunter thought nothing more about the incident despite some nagging pain. What seemed like a minor injury though would throw the Spray family into a world wind of emotions.

“I am grateful to have been able to play as much as I have. My dream is to play at a collegiate level as I further my education.”

“After a few months of pain we went to the doctor to get my foot looked at.” Recalling the devastating news he would receive after a few x-rays Hunter once again remembers all that was going through his mind at the time. “After looking at the x-rays the doctor said he thought I had experienced a Lizfrank injury and let me know that in some cases it is consider a career ending injury.” With a Lizfrank injury the foot suffers a type of trauma where one or more of the metatarsal bones becomes displace. As the doctor continued to explain the extent of the injury all Hunter could hear at the time was, “career ending injury.”

Learning what the recovery process in order to recover would entail Hunter learned that surgery would be necessary. He would have to not only endure the pain of surgery and the long recovery process associated with it all, but would have to also have plates screwed into his foot to help keep the bones stable.

Yet, where would Hunter’s silver linking come from?

“Not too long after that we went to go get a CAT scan on my foot and the results showed that I didn’t end up having that kind of injury.” A very relieved Hunter Spray would not only avoid surgery altogether but would have no problem returning to the field and playing the game he loved, after some rest of course. “It was pretty tough when we first left the doctors office, my mom came home and found out and started crying, it was pretty sad for all of us really. But to find out I was going to be ok, and that it was not as serious as we thought, I was really relieved.”

Looking forward to this final year Hunter fully expects this to be his best. Stepping into the role of veteran on the team as a returning senior, Hunter knows that he has a different set of responsibilities this go around. “I know that the underclassmen are going to be looking up to me and the rest of the seniors. That’s what we all did as underclassmen ourselves. We are going to have to make sure we set good examples because they are going to do what we do,” shares Hunter.

When his time with the Thunder wearing the purple, black, and gold is done Hunter hopes that the impression he has left behind is far greater than what he did on the field. “You want to leave your mark but I want people to remember all the fun times and messing around too. The team nights, the bonding and times out together bowling building those relationships, those things I hope people remember, we had fun.”

As will all athletes, there comes a point and time where you have to “fight for your spot” on the team, “fighting for playing time,” as Hunter put it. When that occurs you have to be willing to put for the effort to show your fellow teammates and coaches that you can be trusted, that you deserve to play, that you’ve earned every minute in the game. “If it is something that he is truly passionate about,” shares Troy, “that there really is no stopping him. Typically his day consists of working grabbing his cleats and heading to the field early in the morning, then coming home when he is done there and working out some more. The competitive level and mindset that he learned from his mother was ‘your job is to play this position and if you are not good enough someone else will come and that that position away. So fight for it because there is someone else on the bench that wants that position.’ That has helped him stay dedicated and will continue throughout his life.”

As the season begins and Hunters Thunder years come to a close he appreciates all the support he has had along the way. From a coach that after eleven years who still keeps in touch to parents who make every game. From Alaska to St George, Hunter has proven to be a true competitor despite any and all challenges he has faced. “It means a lot to know that I have had so many people support and help me along the way. I am thankful that my parents are there to support me and want to be at my games. It shows me that they really care about me.” • HSSI