Dylan Chang Overcomes Obstacles On And Off The Soccer Field Dylan Chang Overcomes Obstacles On And Off The Soccer Field
BY SABRINA VICTOR For CCHS Junior Dylan Chang, his love for sports began at the age of 5 when he first signed up for... Dylan Chang Overcomes Obstacles On And Off The Soccer Field

Photo Credit: JP PORTRAITS


For CCHS Junior Dylan Chang, his love for sports began at the age of 5 when he first signed up for the Cooper City Optimist Recreational Program. Although he has encountered many obstacles, such as stress fractures in both shins, a pulled hip flexor, a torn right meniscus, cracked cartilage, a bruised clavicle, and Crohn’s Disease, Chang is a kid who will never let any adversity bring him down or stop him from attaining his dreams.

“Dylan grew up with soccer ever since he was a toddler,” Father and CCHS Varsity Soccer Assistant Coach Richard Chang said. “He watched me coach both of his sisters until they went on to play at the collegiate level and then the Jamaican National Team.”

With the help of his sisters and intense training from his father, Chang improved his game on the field and found success when his travel team won every single game. After two years, Chang moved on to play with the Miramar Strikers and soon discovered he had a passion for the game.

“I remember every single day I would just go out and train with my dad for like an hour and a half,” Chang said. “My life revolved around soccer and I grew to love it. It was my thing and my passion.”

Growing up with very competitive sisters, Chang also noticed them stress over academics as they brought home their report cards. He quickly understood the importance of grades and became especially infatuated with reading.

“Academics were very important to me and I always took pride in my schoolwork,” Chang said. “I still try to attain exceptional grades.”

As he concentrated on his schoolwork and jumped around to different soccer teams, Chang’s skills on the field greatly improved and so did his speed, his greatest weapon. By the time he got to 8th grade, Chang was running a 100 M race in 10.99 seconds and a 200 M race in 24.5 seconds. He even made it to Regionals, but couldn’t attend due to a hip flexor strain and stress fractures in his shins.

This was the first of the many injuries Chang faced as he moved on to play at the high school level. Clearly one of the most talented players at CCHS, Chang made the Varsity Soccer Team. Chang was also chosen to participate in the Florida Olympic Development Program for the past 5 years in a row.

Between club soccer at West Pines FC and CCHS Varsity Soccer, Chang had his work cut out for him. This extensive schedule included an involvement with Key Club and  rigorous honors and AP courses.  However, he kept on doing what he loved, even when he heard news that would change his life.

One day, while Chang was sitting in class, he felt a stabbing pain. It was so painful that he had to leave school and be sent home. The pain grew to be so unbearable that his parents decided he needed to go to the hospital. After running a few tests, the doctors came to the conclusion that Chang had Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes the inflammation of the digestive tract. This can lead to severe abdominal pain and even malnutrition.

The diagnosis came as a shock to Chang’s family since this was supposed to be a hereditary disease, but no one in their family had ever had Crohn’s. Prompt adjustments had to be made in Chang’s life in order to get the disease under control, including changing diet, drinking a lot of water, taking medication, and getting a pain injection every two weeks.

Although this could’ve been a major setback, Chang refused to let it turn into that. He proceeded with his normal life, ran track, and even continued to pursue his soccer dream. Other than missing a game or two, Chang proceeded to train and play soccer despite what his doctor had to say.

“Soccer became my refuge and my salvation,” Chang said. “The Crohn’s motivated me to become better at soccer because I put my foot down and decided even though the disease got me down, I had to get back up and keep fighting”.

Getting back up and continuing to fight, even when he was flared up, is exactly what Chang did. His sophomore and junior year Chang came back better than ever.

In CCHS Soccer this year, Chang had a total of 9 goals and 8 assists. This season, with his help, the team was able to rank 6th. Success didn’t stop there; especially when Chang was informed he would be going to Argentina in March 2014 and representing the ODP Region team. Meanwhile, for club soccer, the West Pines FC U17 Strikers are 4th in the state out of 10 premier leagues. If they win their next 5 games, they will reign as first place.

Chang even participated in showcases to exhibit his talent to college coaches, such as the Disney Showcase in Orlando. Chang took the opportunity to play his heart out as coaches observed him and his team play. He also took the time to bond with his team. Chang is anticipating the FYSA showcase in March in central Florida and hopes to get offered a scholarship.

Although Chang is heavily concerned about his future in his sport and academics, he never fails to be just a “good kid”. Anyone who knows him would say he exemplifies what good character should be.

“Dylan knows right from wrong and I don’t think we need to worry about him doing something that he’s not supposed to,” Richard Chang said. “We don’t worry about him with drugs or with him being around company.”

He has even motivated his friends on and off the field. Ever since 5th grade, best friend Nico Lopez can recall Chang to be a friend that really cares and keeps up with everyone around him.

“Since middle school, Dylan and I have always pushed each other to our goal,” Lopez said. “He’s always been a motivating factor in my life, whether it be by competing for the best body or just by observing his determination.”

As far as the future goes, Chang’s prospective colleges include Florida Gulf Coast, UCF, and USF because all these schools have top soccer programs.

“I think he will probably end up staying in a school in Florida only because he likes the warm climate,” Richard Chang said. “Wherever he decides to go, he will have our full support and we will try our best to drive up and watch him play.”

Chang is also very impressed by the education these schools offer in Physical Therapy, his dream job. Due to his injury-prone nature and his experiences with physical therapy, he believes the career will fit him well.

“I just enjoyed my time while at Physical Therapy, and even though recovery was hard, my physical therapist helped me get back to 100 percent,” Chang said. “I just want to help other people like me who are always getting injured and who just love to play sports.”

With Chang’s motivation and direction, he will definitely succeed in whichever field he chooses. He refuses to give up or ever be brought down by any obstacle in life, which has definitely been the key to his success.

“In 5-10 years I could definitely see Dylan playing professionally if he works hard enough and is able to stay healthy,” Richard Chang said. “If not, by then he will have got his undergraduate years done and might be working on his graduate. I just hope he enjoys the career he chooses to pursue and actually wants to do it.”