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Soccer: Ragin' Cajuns Eight For Eight - Cassandra Reyes
With eight home matches and eight seniors on the 2017 squad, RaginCajuns.com will be profiling each senior heading into home weekends. This is the final weekend, and since there's two matches this weekend two seniors will be profiled. Up first this week is senior Cassandra Reyes.
LAFAYETTE – Everything happens for a reason.
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's soccer midfielder Cassandra Reyes has used that mentality to get through some of the toughest moments of her life. Those trials have included breaking her foot three times, the right once and the left twice.
But Reyes, also known as 'Cassie', has never let those injuries stop her from doing what she loves, playing soccer and because of that she's ready to finish up her career leaving Louisiana having made some great relationships.
"I started playing when I was four years old," said Reyes. "I was good at the game, and when you're good at something you enjoy doing it. I've never stopped feeling that way about soccer even to this day."
Reyes, who comes from West Covina, Calif., was presented with the great opportunity to play the game of soccer on a big stage even before going into college. Thanks to her dad having been born in Mexico, Reyes was eligible to play for the Mexican National team and she did that playing on both the U-16 and U-17 squads for several years.
"I was about 15 years old when I got the chance to play on the U-16 team," said Reyes. "I did well at the tryout for the team and I after meeting with the head coach found out that he wanted me on the team going forward. My mom, thank god for her, had to scramble to do all this paperwork to get me onto the team."
With her spot solidified on the team she began her journey that lasted roughly three seasons, but it meant that she had to go down to Mexico City to train for upcoming tournaments.
"Whenever I reported to camp with the team, they was always an insane amount of work," said Reyes. "We were training three times a day in blazing heat and the altitude in Mexico City was much higher than what I was used to so I had to make a big adjustment for that."
Training at an elevation north of 7,000 feet can be tough, not speaking the language is just another monkey wrench to throw into the mix. But Reyes was ready for the challenge, and she let her game do all the talking.
But Reyes still got an assist from her teammates whenever she needed it, "I didn't speak Spanish fluently, but I had some women on the team that were American that could translate for me."
With that experience under her belt, she was ready to attack collegiate soccer knowing she can play with anyone and her soccer journey took her to Cerritos College where she played under her high school coach from 2013-14. But it was at Cerritos where Reyes was presented with her first major challenge.
During her freshman season, Reyes suffered her first injury breaking her right foot on a non-contact play.
"We were playing at San Francisco Community College," said Reyes. "I was running and my foot wobbled and I heard a huge crack. I didn't think anything of it when it happened but when I went to run again I was hit with the worst pain I'd had to that point in my life."
Reyes made a speedy recovery from that injury and returned for the final game of the season, and after a strong sophomore season she was ready to move on. A connection from her past showed up and she was given an opportunity she didn't expect.
Cajuns' forward Yazmin Montoya was halfway through her career at Louisiana when she reached out to Reyes, who had been a club and high school teammate to see how she was doing.
"Yazmin told the coaching staff about me and they came and scouted me at a tournament in California," said Reyes. "The coaches made an offer to come here and when I made my visit I committed on the spot.
"I just loved the campus and I liked the town of Lafayette since it's smaller than what I was used to. But my favorite part were the people because they were so nice, they held the door for me were just being so polite, and up to that point I'd never been anywhere like that before."
She was ready to come to Louisiana, but before making the transition down to Cajun Country she was faced with another curve ball.
"I was getting ready to come here and I was playing in a pick-up match in the spring of my sophomore year at Cerritos," said Reyes. "During that game, I stepped in a hole on the field I was playing at. I heard my foot crack, it was the other foot this time, and I crawled off the field and I knew that my foot was broken.
"This time was harder for me then the first time, but as time went on things got better. And I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I think this happened to show me that I'm strong enough to overcome these things."
Reyes rehabbed up and by the season started she was ready to go, she had a solid season adjusting to the Division I level and things looked good heading to her senior season. But life again was ready to test her toughness with yet another injury.
In the summer of 2016, in between her junior and senior seasons, Reyes was home training and preparing for the upcoming season when she again broke her left foot.
"I was running on one of the trails around my house and I stepped in a crevice and I heard my foot crack," said Reyes. "I felt ok afterwards and I finished my run but when I got home my foot was swollen.
"When I came here for fall camp, I took our preseason physical, and I when I was checked up by the doctors I mentioned the incident I had a few weeks prior. They took a long look at my foot and they found that I had a cyst and a crack on my left that could break at any moment."
Devastated Reyes needed to decide what to do next, but she remembered that everything happens for a reason and she wasn't going to let that be the final chapter in soccer career. She took a medical redshirt for that season so that she could return the next year and play out her senior season.
"Cassie's done a great job to rehab and get back for her fifth year for us," said head coach Scot Wieland. "She's tough and she's been a positive player off the bench for us. It's a testament to her toughness that she's stuck with the game like she has."
Although sitting out meant she couldn't finish out her time playing with her friend from high school, Montoya, she realized that the new relationships she had developed would allow her to play with people she cared about nonetheless.
"I thought about the positives that could come from the injury," said Reyes. "I had gotten close with Kim [Grasso] and I realized that I could play another season with her and that made me really happy."
Everything happens for a reason in life, for Reyes she's had to deal with some serious setbacks to her career, but in turn she's made some of the best friends she's had in life. And she'll be leaving Louisiana knowing that those relationships would never have happened had things not gone the way that they did.
"I've met a lot of people here that have become my best friends. And that doesn't happen if I'm not hurt or I don't come to Louisiana and for that I'm grateful."
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