A Moffat County graduate has made the most of an injury comeback while at school.
Jonathan Pando, a 2012 graduate from Moffat County High School, overcame a knee surgery to play with the club soccer team at Colorado State University. After adversity at the beginning of the season, Pando became a major contributor to the team as it made a deep run in the national club tournament.
Pando was part of successful boys soccer teams at MCHS and had plans of continuing to play the sport after graduating. His first bout of difficulty came during a recreational game with friends, when Pando tore his ACL and meniscus.
That injury kept him out of most activity, let alone playing soccer, for more than half a year until after his freshman year at CSU started.
But the former Bulldog knew he wanted to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.
“I said in my head, ‘I’m going to get back, I’m not going to let myself not play soccer again,’” Pando said. “My injury helped me realize how much I missed it.”
So Pando tried out for the club team at CSU in the fall. The Rams do not have a varsity men’s soccer team, so competition for spots on the club team is fierce, Pando said. About 80 players tried out.
After three days of tryouts and cuts, Pando was one of the last to go. He was cut on the final day, but given a chance to make a final spot on the team a couple days later.
“I was disappointed when I got cut, I went and talked to the coach to ask why,” Pando said. “He pretty much told me I just needed to play a bit more. I hadn’t played (soccer) for seven, eight months.”
In his second chance, Pando made the most of it and earned a spot on the team, one of just three freshmen on the squad. By the Rams’ fourth game, he said, he was in the starting lineup as the center-midfielder.
“Once they gave me a second chance, I wanted to let them know I could play,” Pando said. “I had it set in my mind that I would play. I love the competition of soccer.”
With Pando as a key cog in the machine, the Rams made it to the national tournament in the fall season, which requires qualifying as one of the top two teams in your region. CSU made it to the 32-team tournament and won two games before bowing out in the quarterfinals.
Pando said that was a good result for the Rams, and one they now are looking to build on. The club season begins again in the spring, and its youngest member is looking to lead the way deeper at nationals this time around.
“I want to help the team win more and be a great leader on the team,” Pando said. “I also want to show you can come back from an injury (like mine) and still play.
“I actually think it’s made me a smarter player now. I think about getting hurt, and instead of doing something like going one-on-four, I’ll make an extra pass and keep going.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.