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Salazar returns to the soccer field

Leading the offensive attack for the MVNU men’s soccer team is an accomplishment to be proud of, especially after being sidelined from collegiate soccer for over a year.

Enrique Rodriguez-Salazar, a senior forward from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, leads the Cougar offense with 11 goals scored this season.

Introduced to the sport at the age of 14, Salazar often played street soccer in his hometown. He later played for the International School of Tegucigalpa.

Salazar explains his placement at MVNU as “God ordained.”

“Eduardo Barhona, my high school chaplain, came to MVNU looking for professors to teach in Honduras. He met Coach Belleman and gave him my information,” Salazar said.

Salazar came to MVNU as a freshman soccer recruit and played in one game his first year.

After taking the field for 12 games as a sophomore, Salazar tore his ACL in an incident unrelated to soccer.

He is a firm believer that this was all part of God’s plan.

“It was a silly mistake,” Salazar said. “But, God will take your mistakes and turn them into something beautiful.”

Following the injury Salazar received devastating news.

“The doctor told me I would not be able to play soccer at a competitive level again,” said Salazar, adding that God gave him a vision to continue to work hard and trust in him regardless.

Salazar believes the hardest part of his injury was not having control of his leg after surgery.

“I felt impotent not being able to move and having to depend on others,” Salazar said.

But, his patience, hard work and trust in God paid off.

After missing over a year of soccer, Salazar is back on the field and stronger than ever.

Salazar currently leads the Crossroads League in goals and shots on goal for the 2016-2017 season.

“My teammates make me look good by the work they put in on the field, especially guys like Daniel Rodriguez and Taylor Dyson.”

Salazar explains Rodriguez and Dyson as men that really “sweat the t-shirt.”

“That means they leave everything on the field,” Salazar added.

He also credits the coaching staff for the personal and team successes he has experienced this year.

“The coaching staff has genuinely invested in the players, establishing a ‘work hard for each other” mentality,” he said.

Salazar loves the family environment within the team and appreciates that "everyone has a say in what we do.”

Although Salazar loves his team and MVNU’s campus, he still misses his hometown in Honduras.

“I miss my family, my close group of friends, and the landscape full of beautiful mountains and waterfalls,” Salazar said.

Playing soccer for seven years has provided Salazar with countless great experiences and memories.

His favorite occurred during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He participated in Missionary Athletes International, an outreach program that shares the gospel through sports ministry.

As part of the program he traveled to Brazil with the Chicago Eagles, a division of the ministry.

Salazar visited many favelas (very poor sections of the urban areas) to teach kids about his two loves: soccer and God.

“It was a really cool experience,” Salazar said. He added that playing soccer with those kids put his life into perspective and made him extremely grateful for what he had.

The Cougars sit at 12-3-3 on the season, taking third place in a very competitive Crossroads League. They will compete in the Crossroads League Quarterfinals today at 2 p.m. against Indiana Wesleyan University.

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