Patrick Finley: Cancer can't keep soccer recruit from UA

2012-12-25T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:34:02Z Patrick Finley: Cancer can't keep soccer recruit from UAPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Lexe Selman wasn't permitted visitors during her final round of chemotherapy.

While she fought leukemia, the 18-year-old Arizona Wildcats soccer recruit's hospital room was limited to her parents, doctors and nurses.

Any more guests, and, they feared, Lexe would risk catching a disease and going septic - a blood infection that, in her third round, almost killed her.

In the small room at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Lexe read books on Kindle, watched movies on Netflix and, bored, looked at the walls a lot.

That's where she hung photos of her future home, and of her future UA teammates wearing her jersey number in support.

"I had Arizona to look forward to," she said.

It was her motivator and her goal, the second family staring back from glossy prints.

When Lexe finished her final round of chemo in late September and returned home - cancer in remission, thank God - the Wildcats memorabilia followed her to her bedroom.

Lexe, who had signed a national letter of intent before last season, was eager to start her college career, albeit a year late, at the UA.

"Even though I don't know all the girls personally, I felt like we were so connected," she said. "It's like they went through this with me.

"I felt like I needed to be with these girls right away."

And then, last month, UA coach Lisa Oyen resigned after players questioned the program's direction to her bosses.

Lexe's future grew cloudy again.

"I was devastated," Lexe said. "And I really thought, 'Now I can't go to Arizona, and maybe now I can't play soccer in college.'"

The outgoing staff promised Lexe they wouldn't let the UA administration, or the future Wildcats coaches, forget about her.

When Tony Amato was hired earlier this month, he was briefed about Lexe, a top-100 recruit whose diagnosis came April 20 after she committed to the Wildcats.

The new UA head coach watched YouTube clips and read stories about Lexe. He called her dad, Mark, and, later, Lexe.

Amato and Lexe spoke for 40 minutes.

"He told me that I still have a spot down at Arizona," Lexe said.

It was a no-brainer, said Amato, and isn't that the most wonderful thing you've heard in a while?

"She would bring great perspective to the program regardless of if she could kick the ball or not," he said.

Lexe's scholarship is safe.

"If she's half the player she used to be, that'll be a bonus," Amato said. "I always have a spot for someone who gives more to the team than they take from it."

Lexe won't settle for that.

She started training again four weeks ago, and now meets with a personal trainer in Utah three days a week.

She's running regularly, and next month will start playing soccer again.

"I'm starting to go full-throttle," she said.

She'll have her blood tested once a month for the next five months to look for traces of leukemia - "I feel so good now; I just know that I beat it," she said - and plans to be with the Wildcats when they start training in July.

"As soon as I put on my cleats and step on the field for the first time," she said, "I think it will be pretty emotional for me, knowing I fought so hard just to get here.

"I hope I don't cry when I go."

She and her family will try not to be overwhelmed today, either.

"It'll definitely be kinda a relief to say goodbye to this year," Lexe said. "I know it will be so fun, to be all together as a family."

The year has taken a toll on the Selmans.

Today, they'll celebrate.

"I couldn't care less about the gifts," Mark Selman said. "Christmas is going to be amazing because we're going to be together as a family, and we're going to be healthy.

"The true joy of Christmas is to be with your people."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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