Heart surgeries did not derail Keys All-State soccer player
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Friday, June 08, 2012
6/08/12 at 8:54 AM
Jalyn Willis soaked in every moment she was on the soccer field on Thursday night.
The Keys High School graduate - playing for the East Girls in the Class 4A all-state game at Stillwater High School - was making her final appearance playing competitive soccer.
Four heart surgeries had sidelined her often during the latter part of her career, but now she gets to leave the sport on her terms.
"My senior night was supposed to be my last game," Willis said. "I was ecstatic (after the regular-season game). I'm ecstatic now."
The East girls lost to the West 3-1 at Stillwater High School. In the nightcap, the East boys lost to the West 5-2.
"Personally, I feel that I performed to the best of my ability and did my part for the team," Willis said after the game.
Willis, at 14, was diagnosed with Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which leads to rapid heart rhythm.
While surgeries has helped her manage her condition, it remains up to Willis to decide how much she can play. During her senior year at Keys, she only played in three regular-season games, with only one home contest.
When times get difficult on the field, Willis will check herself out of a game.
"I'm very in-sync with my body. I pay attention to it so much," she said. "I've learned the subtle difference between tachycardia and being out of shape with my chest hurting."
Willis had her first surgery when she was 14 and had another shortly after. After a junior season of playing for Keys, she had two more surgeries - one last September and another in April - which took her away from soccer this past year.
"She would look at us and she felt like she was letting us down," Keys teammate Ashtin Dudley said. "But we knew why she wasn't playing. It was OK."
Willis plans to be a student at Connors State this fall. But, before then, there was unfinished business on the soccer field.
"I'm planning to leave it all out on the field," Willis said before the match. "It's my big finale, my retirement."
Original Print Headline: Leaving the game on her own terms
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391