In May of 2016, sophomore midfielder Tyler Kendrick graduated from Parkway Central high school with high hopes of playing soccer for Webster. He was just about to play his first game for Webster University, but sustained a season ending injury right before the season opener.
Kendrick suffered a fractured tibia in his leg that resulted in him missing his entire freshman season.
“It was very disappointing because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play that entire year and possibly have a slow year this year because I’ll still be recovering,” Kendrick said. “It was heartbreaking because I came to school to play at the next level, meet new people and have fun out here.”
The team finished the season last year with a record of 8-10, which was their second year in a row with a losing record. Kendrick said it was frustrating being around the team and watching them compete knowing he would not be able to contribute.
“I knew I just wanted to get back out there with my teammates and get back on the field,” Kendrick said. “Every day when they were practicing I wanted to be out there playing with them because it’s what I love to do.”
Kendrick’s burning desire to play drove him to work tirelessly that year to get himself back in an agile and moving condition to eventually get back into his soccer rhythm.
“First I did some ranges of movement in my ankle and a lot of strengthening of the leg,” Kendrick said. “After that, I moved on towards cutting and sprinting, then I moved on towards in-game situations like playing with the ball, shooting and passing.”
Head coach Mike Siener said Kendrick has come a long way in his recovery process and he is amazed at how far he has come. He said Kendrick’s skill set gives him the potential to be one of the key players for the team.
“He’s inching his way back into playing and he’s trying to get confidence back in his leg,” Siener said. “He was a very talented high school player and he definitely has some gifts that will help us. He has good speed, he can finish well, so when we need a goal, he’s definitely going to be a guy that will be out there giving us minutes.”
In the team’s home opener against Monmouth College, Kendrick scored the only goal in the game that gave Webster their first win of the season.
Kendrick said it felt good to prove he could still play and was capable of performing the same way he did before the injury.
“It felt really good because of what I went through last year,” Kendrick said. “It felt great to get out there in the first game and show that I can still score, play and have fun.”
Sophomore defenseman Miles Minnaar said he was happy Kendrick was able to bounce back and lead the team to a win in their home opener.
“Tyler is fast and he’s pretty strong physically and mentally, and I think he can bring a lot to the table this year,” Minnaar said. “He showed it with his game winner in the first home game and he’s taking a lot of chances, so I think he’s really bringing a lot to the team.”
Kendrick’s game winning goal was the start of a three game winning streak for them. After losing their first game to Illinois College, Minnaar said Kendrick’s victory snatching goal helped uplift the team and give them the confidence they needed to win more games.
“Your first win, especially with that goal because it was a one goal win, is monumental to the season,” Minnaar said. “I think understanding that one, we can win and two, we can score, is great because now we know what works and we know what doesn’t. With that knowledge we can win more games.”