Steven Perry's life changed that September day at the doctor's office three years ago. The back pain he'd been having after basketball and soccer, pain he tried to relieve with trips to the masseuse and chiropractor, was more serious than imagined.
The diagnosis: stress fractures in his lowest vertebrae. The fix: four to six months in a back brace, no sports for that long or longer. "I was really miserable,” Perry said of his lost freshman year at Bishop McGuinness. His back was broken, but his spirit was not. "It was at that point that he decided he was going to play Division-I ball,” his father, Mike, said. His mother, Janet, said, "He had decided he was going to get better.” Now, Perry is more than better. He is the best. He will receive one of the Bob Colon Scholarships, presented by The Jim Thorpe Association and The Oklahoman to the top male high school scholar-athlete in the Oklahoma City area. Add it to an already impressive senior year. Winning state titles in football, track and soccer. Being named the soccer All-City offensive player of the year. Leading the state with 40 goals. Signing with Notre Dame. Finishing high school with straight A's. "He worked for this,” his father said. "He was determined.” Never more so than after he thought his career was over.
Raised on competitionSteven Perry received his early soccer education in Chicago, where kids as young as 7 try out for teams. Competition was fierce even then, instilling dedication and cultivating passion. When Perry's family moved to Oklahoma when he was in sixth grade, he played basketball and swam along with playing soccer. No matter what he did, he was feisty. Heck, as the middle child with an older and a younger sister, Perry learned that behavior early. Once when Steven ranked seventh in his class, his older sister, Melissa, ranked 11th in hers. He reminded her of it time and again. "But there are smarter kids in my class,” she would insist. Perry always had to prove himself. That was never truer than when he injured his back. The problem began in his freshman year when his lower back muscles would tighten so badly he could hardly move. The pain got so bad that for a time, he couldn't stand sitting in the chairs at McGuinness. He had to stand in the back of the room during class. Doctors determined that the pounding his body took on the soccer pitch and the basketball court had caused his vertebrae to crack.