Girls’ Soccer | westminster academy

Adversity turns young star into a team leader

 

A heart condition nearly derailed Alexia Kinsey’s career, but the rising star has learned to adjust her game and become a team leader.

Special to The Miami Herald

If scoring 30 goals as an eighth-grader for Westminster Academy’s girls’ soccer team wasn’t compelling enough, add to that the degree of difficulty of netting more than two dozen goals with a heart that wasn’t working properly.

That’s what Alexia “Lexi” Kinsey had to deal with last season, when she made a smashing varsity debut at age 13, earning second-team All-Broward honors.

Kinsey, now 14 and a freshman at Westminster, has been dealing with heart issues for about three years.

“When I would run, I could feel my heart racing really fast,” Kinsey said, “and that wasn’t normal.”

Kinsey’s parents — Andrea and Jeff — said their daughter would also get “short-winded,” but when they took her to the hospital, nothing showed up as abnormal. Finally, doctors gave her a heart monitor that she carried with her to games and practices.

When she felt her heart racing, she was instructed to run off the field and put the monitor over her chest. The machine would record her heart rate, and, after a few minutes, Kinsey would return to action.

Kinsey’s parents sent the monitor’s findings to their doctor each night. It took 28 days of monitoring before doctors diagnosed her with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a rapid-heart rhythm that can be treated with medicine or surgery.

The medicine, though, left her without much energy, and for an athlete who dreams of playing soccer at Ohio State — her parents’ alma mater — that was not a realistic option for her.

“There really wasn’t any thinking about it,” Kinsey said of the surgery. “I just wanted to get it over with.”

Surgery was performed on Aug. 7 and she was back playing in less than a week — without the rapid heart rate that she had been dealing with for years.

She did have trouble breathing and her chest got tight while playing, which was diagnosed as exercise-induced asthma.

To combat that condition, Kinsey uses a breathing machine before every workout, taking about 10 minutes to inhale medicine into her lungs.

Given all she has gone through, it’s understandable that Kinsey’s goal numbers this season — eight in her first nine games — are not up to her high standards.

As a proven goal-scorer, she is also facing double-teams and she’s passing more and already is posting eight assists — twice as many as she had all last season.

“She doesn’t play selfishly,” said coach Dale Renwick, who has led Westminster to a 7-1-1 start. “She distributes.”

Kinsey, of course, has shown an amazing ability to adjust to difficult circumstances — on the field or off.

“It is disappointing,” she said of her goal numbers. “But I’ve realized how to pass, and I’ve become more of a leader since we only have one senior. I feel that I’m only going to continue to improve.”

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