Senior Coby Rockwell proudly wore his No. 9 as a striker for the Edgewood High School boys soccer team.
It wasn’t a sense of pride, but one of remembrance for this year’s Ashtabula County Boys Soccer player of the Year.
Rockwell’s friend, Colton Irish committed suicide when he was a freshman, and the number has great significance for the Edgewood soccer player.
Rockwell was an eighth grader.
The two became friends early on in elementary school, even though they were a year apart — always having a good time with one another.
“He always wanted to play with me in high school because we were really good friends,” Rockwell said. “His
family, before my
freshman year, wanted me to wear his number during my high school career.
“I put all my dedication and hard work into helping my teammates, being a leader and doing it for him.”
Rockwell’s head coach, Greg Myers, was named Ashtabula County’s boys coach of the year.
Myers was a guiding presence on and off the pitch.
“Overall, he was an amazing coach,” Rockwell said. “He pushed me to be the player I was.”
Rockwell had 14 goals and three assists this season as Edgewood went 6-8-1 and 2-4-1
in the Chagrin Valley Conference, Valley Division.
“Coby is a very dynamic player,” Myers said. “He has great vision on the field, not only as a striker.
“He got his teammates involved. We wanted the strikers to play
off of other people instead of getting that
ball and just trying to go.
“Great field presence and he had phenomenal foot skills. He places the ball, and has finesse or power.”
Rockwell had a
slight tear in his lateral collateral ligament, located outside of the knee bone — keeping him out for a couple of games.
Then, he broke his bone on right pinky finger in his last playoff game.
Through it all, Rockwell persevered.
He couldn’t believe it when he was named the county’s boys soccer player of the year when his coach texted him the news.
“Are you sure?,” Rockwell queried Myers. “I was really shocked. It really touched me.”
Playing for his
friend who passed
away a couple of years ago is something that touched him each and every time he took the field.
“Every year I got customized cleats, and I had his name on my cleats every game,” Rockwell said. “Before I walked on the field, I’d like to always tap my shoes.
“I got a tattoo of his name and the day he passed away on my wrist, and I’d always point at it when I scored.”