By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Shawn Jurisch knew it before anyone else did.
Soccer was in his son Elijah’s future.
A moment from when he was 4 years old showed him all he needed to see.
During a Mantua Soccer Association game, while every other player on the field fell into the magnet trap of the typical youth soccer beehive, Elijah positioned himself outside of the mess.
And when the ball eventually popped free, he raced down the field with it and scored.
“My dad says he knew right then that he thought I had a chance to be a good soccer player,” Elijah said.
Turns out his father was right.
Jurisch is now a junior for the Crestwood Red Devils and his ability to impress on the soccer field has yet to slow down.
Even his head coach continues to watch in amazement.
“Watching Elijah play, as a coach, just makes me smile so much,” Crestwood boys soccer head coach Eric Sway said. “I always expect more and more from him, he gives everything every minute of the game and seeing that makes me know he is a lethal player for 80 minutes and can score at any possible second.”
It is not all about scoring, though, with Jurisch, whose creativity, skill and placement make him a dangerous distributor as well.
As a sophomore, Jurisch’s 22 assists set a new single-season program record.
Scoring, passing or simply playing, all of it is enjoyable for Sway.
“He is just fun to watch, and I’m enjoying the time I have coaching him. It is a privilege for me to watch Elijah be Elijah,” Sway said. “I am a fan of every single student-athlete of mine, but players like Elijah don’t come through Crestwood that often, so I’m enjoying the ride I get with him for three full years.”
Jurisch has matured a lot as a player since the day of his dad’s memory of his 4-year-old. By the time Jurisch was 7, he began playing at the club level and by age 10, he started to fall in love with the sport.
At that same time, Jurisch had been awarded his club team’s Player of the Game award for five consecutive matches.
“That is when I think I realized that I really loved soccer,” Jurisch said.
Another moment fostered Jurisch’s love for the game, when during that same season, he scored seven goals in a club matchup against an opponent that he had previously tried out for, but did not get selected for.
It was one of the first times that Jurisch remembers using an outside source to motivate him. It is an emotion that he channels to push himself to the next level competitively.
“I am definitely a different person on the field, I think,” Jurisch said. “Once I get out there, I become super competitive and when you challenge me, that is when I am going to take myself to 120 percent. Because I have a determined look on my face when I am on the field, some people always think I am mad or mean, but I am really just determined and looking to do something when I get my chance.”
During his career, those chances have come from a variety of places on the field.
Jurisch’s skill-set has allowed him to play multiple positions, including outside wing, holding-mid, forward and attacking-mid.
“I am a playmaker at heart, but I will do whatever the team needs me to do,” Jurisch said.
Amongst all of his soccer traits, that attitude may be his most valuable.
“Elijah is such a big part of the team because he is a team player,” Sway said. “He will play any position on the field he is asked to play, and he will play any position to 110 percent of his abilities. He is a natural leader on the field, in training sessions and outside the game.
“I can count on Elijah for anything,” Sway added.
Shawn Jurisch had a feeling that would be the case.