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Marquez covets chance to play in Italy after overcoming injuries

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By Jason Wesseldyk

Sports Editor

FENNVILLE—Isabela Marquez admits to having moments of doubt. How could she not?

After all, she tore her ACL not once, but twice, costing her both her sophomore and junior seasons of high school soccer in the springs of 2016 and 2017.

“There were times I questioned if I’d be as good of a player as I was before the injuries,” Marquez said. “Would I be able to move the same way? Would I be as quick?”

The answer to those questions came last fall, when Marquez suited up for her club team and took to the field for the first time in nearly two years.

“It was awesome being back out there,” she said. “I have to wear a brace, which I know a lot of players don’t like. But I like it. I like knowing it’s there because it gives me a sense of security and helps me go out and play without thinking about my knee.

“I was able to play like I always have and I proved to myself I’d be ready to go for the high school season in the spring. I didn’t think it could get any better.”

And then it did.

In September, the organization American International Sports Teams contacted Marquez to gauge her interest in being part of a 19U team that would travel to Italy in June for the United World Games.

“At first I thought it was some kind of a joke,” Marquez said. “But my parents looked into it and found out it was legit.”

Now Marquez is on a mission to raise the $4,000 needed to cover her portion of the trip’s expenses.

“That money will cover things like the flights, hotel rooms and food,” Marquez said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Marquez and the Saugatuck Brewing Company, where Marquez is employed as a hostess, has scheduled a fundraiser on Sunday, Jan. 7, from 3 to 7 p.m.

“We’re going to have a Dutch auction and have food available,” Marquez said. “We don’t know exactly what items we’ll have at the auction yet, but I’m going to take a few days to go around to businesses in Fennville, Saugatuck, South Haven and Holland and ask if they have items to donate.”

Marquez still isn’t sure who contacted AIST on her behalf, but she’s glad he or she did.

“I have no idea who put my name in (for consideration),” she said. “I had never heard of American International Sports Teams before, but it’s such a great opportunity. I can’t wait.”

Marquez, whose team is comprised of players throughout the United States, will fly out on June 22.

“The trip will last 11 days in all, but we’ll only be playing on six of those days,” she said. “The other days we’ll be practicing and doing team-building activities so we get to know each other better.”

The group will also have time to do some exploring.

“There’s time built in to do some sightseeing and visiting different places in Italy,” Marquez said. “I’m just really excited about all of it. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Her history with injuries makes her appreciate the opportunity all the more.

“I went through a lot when it came to the physical therapy and the rehab for my knee,” Marquez said. “I’m really proud of myself for putting in the work and getting back to the point where I can play again.”

For more information about the fundraiser, contact Marquez at isabelayaz­min@ya­hoo.com.