Langley player’s drive on and off soccer pitch noticed

Langley player’s drive on and off soccer pitch noticed

Three months after cancer was removed from his thigh, John Kaspar was back training.

A Langley soccer product suits up for the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer squad .

John Kaspar, a 6’2” centre back from Langley, has inked the deal. He suits up for the team in the fall of 2017, looking forward to playing at the Canada West level.

He’s garnered a great deal of attention for being a young cancer survivor. His 2014 cancer diagnosis meant five weeks of radiation and surgery to remove a tumour (fibromyxoid sarcoma) from his left thigh. Just three months after his operation after he was back training.

“It was a challenge, and I accepted it,” Kasper said, reflecting on his bout with cancer. “I proved to everyone that I could come back, and I’m stronger than I was before.

“The doctors are surprised I’m still able to play at the level I am, and the same with my coaches… but I’m not. I put in the work, and I always knew I’d be back.”

His performance record is what made UFV chase him down.

He has spent the last five seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC youth residency program, and his youth soccer resumé also includes a stint with the U15 Canadian men’s national team.

“It’s a landmark for our program,” head coach Tom Lowndes said. “Our first player from the Whitecaps residency is huge, and if you also look at his international experience, to land someone of that calibre is a massive coup. He’s a warrior on the pitch, and he’s had to battle a lot of things off the pitch as well, and it’s only made him stronger. I’m excited for him to come in and provide a different dimension for us next season.”

Lowndes called him a “natural leader”.

“He’s a very hard-nosed defender, very good in the air, but he’s also got a very good left foot and he’ll be able to get us playing from the back,” Lowndes said. “Attackers are going to have a tough time dealing with him.”

When he’s not working hard on the soccer pitch, he’ll be hitting the books to study either criminology or global development.

“I feel like the school will suit what I’m looking to get out of post-secondary education, and I’m close friends with Tom, so it’s nice to be involved with his coaching as well,” Kaspar said. “It’s going to be fun.”