Southridge soccer player assists ref during stroke


Jeffrey Echeverria and Southridge Athletic Director Brett Bardwell

HUNTINGBURG — Senior striker Jeffrey Echeverria probably thought it was just going to be another soccer game when the Southridge boys soccer team traveled to Washington for the Raiders’ first-round sectional match earlier this month. Sure, it’s playoff soccer, so the right to keep competing for a sectional championship was on the line, but that was it in terms of the height of the stakes. No one’s life was at risk because of the game.

But the situation changed drastically just a minute into the game’s second half. Jeffrey was going about his business on the field, but noticed something was wrong with Roy Ingles, one of the officials.

“I was in the middle of the field getting ready to receive the ball. I saw the ref coming towards me, he said to me ‘I’m going to have to leave the game, because I’m starting to not feel my left leg,’” Jeffrey recalled. “At that moment, I was like ‘Are you okay, do you need help?’ And he goes ‘I need to go to the sideline.’”

Faced with Ingles experiencing a stroke right in front of him, Jeffrey and another soccer player from Washington immediately took the official over their shoulders and helped him off the field. There was no whistle to stop play, but that didn’t matter. A man was suffering a medical emergency, and the game could wait while the boys tended to Ingles in his time of need.

“I noticed they kind of stopped playing. I looked up and one Washington player and Jeffrey had Roy on their shoulders carrying him over to the sideline,” Southridge boys soccer coach Brandon Aders said. “Nobody knew what was going on until they were already carrying him over [to the bench].”

The trainers on site took care of Ingles until he could be transported to the hospital. For his efforts, Jeffrey was awarded the IHSAA sportsmanship pin. The pin is part of the IHSAA’s Face of Sportsmanship campaign, which is an effort to promote acts of high character and leadership through athletics. The IHSAA has guidance criteria for the award, but leaves it to the schools to determine which student-athletes are deserving of the pin. When Southridge athletic director Brett Bardwell heard of Jeffrey’s actions, it was a no-brainer that he qualified.

“I became aware of it through Aders, so I talked to Jeffrey and he gave me a lot more details,” Bardwell said. “It was an amazing thing. Jeffrey and a player from Washington were the first two to stop play and provide assistance. It was an instinct thing, and they were right there. We’re proud of him.”

Jeffrey is just the seventh student-athlete at Southridge to receive the award in the two years since the program started. It came as a complete surprise when Bardwell called him into his office and gave him the pin. Jeffrey didn’t expect to find himself in that situation when he laced up his cleats that day, but he’s happy he was able to step up and be the hero in the moment when Ingles needed it most.

“I wasn’t expecting nothing from it because it’s the right thing to do,” Jeffrey said. “It feels really good, I was glad that I was there to help him. That’s something that I’ll always remember, I’m glad that he’s OK.”

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