By Ty Pimienta, reporting intern
Sparks junior Jesus Partida was arguably the best DI-A North player last year, as a sophomore. As a junior this fall, his role was drastically different.
Last July, the leading scorer tore his ACL, ending his junior season before it started.
“At a Sunday league game, I was running and I planted wrong, and I just fell right away,” Partida said. “Right when I planted on my leg, I felt something just bad in my leg and I couldn’t stand up.
“I wasn’t sure that I tore it, because I’ve had pains like that before with my other knee. But, it was never that serious. So I was kind of hoping that it wouldn’t be anything serious, but at the same time, I was looking at how swollen it was. So I had a feeling in the back of my head, that it might be an ACL tear or something like that.”
Instead of spending the season moping and occasionally showing up to practices, Partida chose to stay on board. As the team manager.
“Since the beginning of the season, when the season started I already knew that my ACL was torn. I wanted to still be with the team, so I just asked coach (Frank Avilla) to see if I could help out any way I could.”
While going through rehab, Partida was forced to watch as the Railroaders defended their DI-A North regional title before falling in the state semifinals.
He wasn’t bitter.
“It was good because they are all my teammates, they are all my friends so it’s good to see them succeed and good to see them get titles, so it was good,” he said. “I was happy for them.”
He still has several months of physical therapy to recover from the surgery.
He is also the third Partida to go through the Sparks program. His older brother, Kevin, is currently playing at UNLV.
“Jesus is the third athlete from the Partida family that I’ve had,” Avilla said. “The family has good talent, Jesus is a joy to have on the field, he’s very respectful and he works hard. As a coach, you look forward to coaching kids like that.
“His maturity on the field, and willingness to give of himself. He plays for the right reasons and that’s important, he’s a good student and he plays for the right reasons.”
After recovering from the season-ending injury, Partida plans to complete his senior season at Sparks and follow his brother Kevin’s footsteps by playing at the collegiate level.
“Obviously my goal is to get to college and in order to get to college, I want to get a scholarship offer for soccer,” he said. “The only reason I do good in school, is so that I can get into college to play at a higher level.”