of Pope John Paul the Great (Dumfries, Va.)
was named the winner of the inaugural 2011 Inspireum Soccer Awards.
The Awards, administered by Inspireum, honor the most inspirational high school-aged soccer players in America by awarding academic scholarships to the college of their choice. The program honors individuals who display incredible character, courage, contribution and commitment, and who serve as an inspiration to their teammates, peers and communities.
Metzler was named the most inspirational player out of more than 250 young men and women who were nominated, and whose full stories can be viewed at InspireumSoccerAwards.com
Metzler excels on the soccer pitch as one of the top goalkeepers in the state of Virginia,
is ranked third in the state in saves per game
, and has been selected for second team All-State honors.
But what makes this soccer player even more remarkable is the fact that he was born without a fibular bone which left him with no lower right leg from the knee down. This challenge has never slowed him down. During his senior season, Metzler captained the Pope John Paul the Great soccer team to a winning season and a 13th-place team ranking in the state of Virginia.
His coach Henry Montague said, "He is successfully juggling a demanding schedule with his high school commitments. His athletic achievements are clearly noteworthy, but are truly remarkable for an athlete with only one God-given leg. Christian is the consummate inspirational leader of other student athletes and is most deserving of this award. "
Metzler gives generously of his time to various organizations including the Walter Reed and Bethesda Medical Centers where he mentors amputees and injured servicemen as part of the Wounded Warrior Program, and works as a peer counselor for disabled youth and their families.
"I hear many others say, ‘If he can do it, why can't I?'" says Metzler. On one occasion, he was helping a new patient come to terms with the loss of his limbs, and he joked with the patient about the experience of going to the beach and getting sand in his prosthesis. "His face lit up and that was really the best - that's when I realized that I am really making a difference in the lives of these guys."
The Trusted Sports Foundation provides $25,000 in academic scholarships to the 12 Finalists. As the winner of the Inspireum Soccer Awards, Metzler will be presented a $7,500 academic scholarship at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's convention on Jan. 14.
Three runners-up will each receive a $2,500 academic scholarship. The runners-up include Tara McNaught
of Mayfair (Lakewood, Calif.)
, ho spends hours each day undergoing breathing treatments to overcome Cystic Fibrosis in order to be part of her high school and club soccer teams; Humberto Alvarez
of South Medford (Ore.)
, who sacrificed his junior year season when he donated bone marrow to save his 5-year-old brother who has leukemia; and Michael Cooper
of Highland Regional (Blackwood, N.J.)
, who uses soccer to rehabilitate his two autistic brothers and overcome his own battle with Crohn's disease.
The winner and runners-up were determined by the National Selection Committee comprised of Awards Chairman Steve Sampson, and U.S. Men's National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, as well as many other well-known soccer personalities. April Heinrichs, a former U.S. Women's National Team player and coach, and the first woman inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame is serves on the committee, as well as Lynn Berling-Manuel, Chief Marketing Officer of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and Andres Cantor, whose famous call, "GOOOOAAALLLL!" will be the new hallmark of the upcoming World Cup broadcast in the U.S. The committee voted for the nominees who they feel most inspire others, and who best represent the values of character, courage, contribution and commitment.
Two fan favorites have also been selected by online fan vote, each to receive a $2,000 academic scholarship.
One female, Maritza Valdespino
, and one male, Erik Aresenault
, have been named the Fan Favorites. Valdespino hails from a low-socioeconomic, inner-city area at Milby (Houston)
, but overcame every barrier and stereotype to excel to the utmost, both academically and athletically. Arsenault, of Park Vista (Lake Worth, Fla.)
, underwent the removal of a tumor on his spine and implantation of metal rods to stabilize him. Although it took several years, Arsenault relearned how to bend, walk and move before he made his way back to the soccer field.