Just six months ago Camdenton senior Justin Gerdiman was hobbled on the sidelines.
He had suffered a torn meniscus that interrupted his senior season and patiently went through the three-month road to recovery. However the injury was just one inconvenient road bump towards his goal of playing college soccer and he did not let it deter him from his path.
Now, he will join the collegiate ranks after signing with Division III Westminster on Wednesday morning in Camdenton amongst his family, coaches and peers.
“I am stoked to be joining Westminster and playing soccer with them. It is something I have worked for since I was little so to finally have it happen is kind of unreal and it still has not set in that I get to play college soccer,” Gerdiman stated. “It is amazing to be able to be in the lowest point of my life and now I am at the highest point six months later after coming back so I am excited.”
Another individual who was excited on Thursday was former Camdenton boys’ soccer coach Jason Ingold. Ingold, now serves as an Assistant Principal at Bolivar Middle School, but he was on hand to witness the signing of one of his former players.
Ingold has known Gerdiman since he was a third grader and he still remembers the days when he tried to integrate him into the soccer community and encouraged him to play at a higher level, taking on the bigger fifth and six graders who did not hesitate to push the smaller Gerdiman around. Gerdiman was also a constant presence around the high school team serving as the ball boy and taking a few road trips with the varsity as well. The coach was glad to see his former player get rewarded for something the senior has undoubtedly worked hard to achieve.
“He has always worked his tail off to improve and countless hours have been put in not just by him, but by his parents,” Ingold said. “I’m really excited for him and it is something he has been wanting for a long time.”
There are a couple of things Gerdiman liked about the school in Fulton and he is eager to get started and make his contribution.
“Whenever I visited I loved the campus and thought it was beautiful. Speaking with Coach (Adam) Galla and just interacting with him and the team, they really welcomed me and were awesome so I am excited to play, hang out with all the guys and win some games,” the senior stated.
Ingold said his former player should have no problem helping his new program find success. Gerdiman was a two-time All-District, All-Conference and All-Region player for the Lakers and he also earned All-State status as a junior when as he broke the school record for single season goals with 29.
“On the field he is a really smart player and he has been smart for a while now. He is quick, but he can play multiple positions and he really distributes well,” the coach noted. “I think he has really fine-tuned his skills over the past few years.”
There is also something to be said for Gerdiman’s character and Ingold said he noticed a major difference from his sophomore to junior season with the leadership qualities he displayed on and off the field. Once again, Ingold credited the senior’s parents for instilling the value of hard work.
“I know his dad made him do weed eaters one summer. Justin hated it, but his dad said, “I don’t want you working in an office. I want you learning what hard work is and why you need to go to college,’” Ingold recalled. “He hated every day of that summer, but he would go do that for eight to 10 hours and then he’d come out on the field. That is the kind of kid he is. He is a quality guy that has been a captain on just about every team he has been on and that is for a reason.”
Gerdiman said he will miss all of his friends and teammates from Camdenton and noted that one thing he regreted not get to accomplish was winning the district championship. However, he is hoping the returning Lakers can check that goal off the list and he offered a few words of advice.
“I was really hoping to do that, but it just did not work out,” the senior said of the goal. “Keep working hard. Things are going to happen and good things will come as long as they keep working hard.”
Ingold said it was not easy for him to leave Gerdiman or this current group of seniors, but he kept in contact throughout the year and came to see a few games. The former Laker coach said if his own kids end up being anything like Gerdiman, it will be a good sign.
“It was a rough one for him being on the sidelines a lot and having to work through adversity, but he is a good kid and one that I’ve always said that if my kids grow up to be just like Justin I’d be a proud father,” Ingold stated.
Gerdiman plans to study business administration with an emphasis in finance while also minoring in Spanish.