Emotion allows junior to boost Cats’ offense

By Clark Brooks

Passionate — the lone word junior midfielder Jason Griffiths used to describe himself as a soccer player.

After moving across the Atlantic, fighting back from numerous injuries and earning six yellow cards to date, Griffiths knows he has heart and a deep love for soccer. He just wants everyone else to know.

Born in Bracknell, England, Griffiths was naturally attracted to soccer. He joined the Beaconsfield SYCOB Football Club when he was a teen. Griffiths excelled as a Ram, leading his team to the Minerva Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division Championship in the 2003-04 season. His play helped earn him the Berks and Bucks Senior trophy. Besides his club team, Griffiths performed very well for his high school. He and his Garth Hill School squad won four straight county and district titles, as well as being nationally recognized in 2003 as one of the top 16 teams in England.

After high school Griffiths wanted to continue playing soccer. In 2005, Griffiths attended a tryout where 20 American coaches were scouting players, hoping to be noticed as a prospect.

“A few of my friends were already in the U.S.,” Griffiths said. “I had a good work out and Coach Collins was there. I assume he was impressed, because he wanted me to come to UK.”

Griffiths burst onto the scene as a freshman scoring four goals and helping out with six others in 2006, two of which were game winning. He earned a spot in the starting rotation 15 times for the Cats. Griffiths tallied up five points in the Conference USA Tournament.

“When I got here, I wanted to be successful,” he said. “I think we as a team did very well that year.”

However, while the rest of the Cats were preparing for the 2007 season, Griffiths suffered a hernia. The injury was still giving Griffiths trouble in the summer, so he decided to have surgery on his injured groin.

“Even after the surgery and physical therapy, there was pain in my groin. It lingered all season limiting my action,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths didn’t play until the sixth game in 2007, but was still able to play through the discomfort. He was only able to account for one goal, a game winner against Central Florida.

“I definitely lost a step or two when I got hurt,” Griffiths said. “This off-season I wanted to focus on getting faster. Unfortunately, I pulled my hamstring in the process.”

Despite the injuries Griffiths had the will to get better and improve himself in the game he loves—which was established by his father when he was a little boy.

“My dad really wasn’t good at soccer, so it was like he tried to play through me. He pushed me to work harder in every aspect of the game. He is by far my biggest role model in this game.”

Now, Griffiths feels he is back to his old self. He scored two goals and accounted for one assist so far in 2008. Griffiths also is maintaining a perfect penalty kick percentage of 4-for-4 on his career.

“Honestly, I don’t try to do anything fancy,” Griffiths said. “I just aim for the lower right corner. It is funny to think that I’m perfect by doing the same thing every time.”