Cavalier Corner

October 2014

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BY WHITELAW REID I N A BEDROOM THAT WAS painted blue and orange at his childhood home in Virginia Beach, a young Eric Bird dreamed of play- ing soccer for UVa. But as a first-year, Bird suffered the first major injury of his career, and it looked like his dream might never come to fruition. Bird sustained complete tears of both the MCL and ACL in his knee, and — for the first time in his life — couldn't play soccer. During the full year that was needed to rehabilitate the injury, Bird wondered if he'd ever be the same player again. "It was quite the journey — both physically and mentally," Bird said. What got Bird through the tough times was his support system — his teammates, his family mem- bers and a UVa professor. Due to the difficulty of getting around with his injury, Bird began skipping an economics class he was taking. That's when the professor, Ed Burton, stopped by unannounced outside the team's locker room and took Bird to lunch for a pep talk. "He was almost like my family away from home," said Bird, referring to Burton. "He was a great guy and really looked after me." However, Bird's injury woes didn't end there. As a second-year, he re-sprained his MCL and had appendicitis. Last season, Bird was finally healthy and helped lead Virginia's charge to the College Cup (soccer's version of the Final Four in its NCAA Tourna- ment). The 5-11, 170-pounder had a team-leading 19 points (seven goals and five assists), including game-winning goals against Providence and VCU and a game-tying marker against Virginia Tech. At season's end, Bird received third-team All- America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Soccer America. Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said Bird was the team's "engine." DREAM COME TRUE Eric Bird Overcame A Series Of Injuries To Star For His Childhood Favorite

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