Posted On February 17, 2016 by PUSC
by Steven Wilson, Sports Editor – The Press Tribune
photo Brent Robken Photography
February 16, 2016 — Four days after Rocklin High student-athlete Trevor Wildberger lost his battle to cancer this past August, Roseville High’s Ryan Kelly slipped a fluorescent green bracelet over his wrist and it’s been there ever since.
Scribed on the soft rubber is Trevor’s full name and the date of his passing, August 25, 2015, which serves as a reminder for Kelly to keep the game of soccer in perspective and cherish each day he gets to take the field.
“Everyone loved him,” Kelly explained. “He was really nice and he was a goalkeeper like me, so we trained together. I got really close to him in just the month and a half that I knew him. When he passed away, everyone was devastated.”
Toward the end of 2013, while playing goalie for Placer United, Wildberger was injured in the process of making a save. The injury resulted in a hospital visit and, although the ensuing x-rays came back negative, they revealed a mass in his adrenal gland. Two months later, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma Cancer.
“As soon as he passed away, I started playing each game for him,” the Roseville High senior added. “I’ve tried to use his same mentality and that’s really helped me.
“He was always a happy person. No matter how bad his cancer was, or how sick he was, he would always come out to our practices, try as hard as he could and even if he made a bad play, he would (forget about it) and move on to the next play. He was just always happy.”
Utilizing a similarly positive mindset, Kelly saw an improvement in his play and became a dominant force on the field. Not only did he earn six shutouts for the Roseville Tigers varsity team this past season in the cage, but he’s been a standout goalie for Placer United as well.
Kelly’s outstanding play on the pitch this past year helped him earn a scholarship to Sonoma State, where he will join the men’s soccer program and fight for playing time at goalkeeper.
“It’s pretty much a dream come true,” he confessed. “I’ve always wanted to play college soccer, so to play at Sonoma, where it’s not too far and I can also come home after soccer season, it’s just a perfect location for me. I also love the school, the coach is really nice, so I feel like it’s a perfect fit for me.”
Although he’s moving on to the Division II level, Kelly will continue to honor Wildberger and plans to do so for the foreseeable future.
“Before our games, we say, ‘Trevor is here with us,’ so he’s still an inspiration for all of us,” Kelly said. “I’m definitely going to continue that.”
During his speech at Placer United’s signing ceremony last Wednesday, Kelly brought up Wildberger’s passing and shared his fondest memories of the young goalkeeper. Afterwards, he spoke of his close friend and his will to persevere through tough times.
“If someone is struggling that hard, you should be able to persevere through anything you’re dealing with,” Kelly concluded.