Aidan McShane already knew how to play soccer.
But last year he learned to be the perfect leader.
McShane is a senior on the Father Judge High School soccer team, and after starting his freshman and sophomore season at striker, he spent all of his junior year as a cheerleader. A torn ACL sent him to the sidelines. But just because he wasn’t scoring doesn’t mean he wasn’t contributing.
“I hurt my knee, first playing CYO basketball, but then I took some time off and went back to play soccer for my club team and that’s when it got hurt bad,” said McShane, who lives in Pine Valley. “I couldn’t play soccer at all my junior year. I came back for club soccer, but I didn’t play at all for Judge.
“I learned a lot not playing. The biggest thing I learned was that you can have a big impact on the game without playing. The guys who are on the team but not playing can help a lot. I knew it before, but I saw it last year.”
McShane couldn’t play, but he could put in a lot of work.
A torn ACL requires a lot of rehabbing to get back on the field, and every day he was working on getting faster and stronger.
Even when he was cleared to go back, it was decided he should take a little longer to make sure he was at 100 percent before he got back in action.
It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
“Not playing was terrible, because I started my first two years, and I’ve always played with my club team, so it was something I haven’t experienced in a long time,” said McShane, whose team made it to the Catholic League quarterfinals. “It hurt so bad not playing. But I tried to stay in shape. I would go to practice and work out with our trainer every day. A lot of running. So when I was cleared, it didn’t take too long to get back in playing shape.
“I was cleared to come back during the playoffs, but we decided it would be better to just keep working. It would have been hard to come back and go right into the playoffs. Even when I first started playing with my club team, it took a long time to get my (touch) back.”
Since being cleared, McShane has been focusing on getting back on the field for his senior year. But because of coronavirus, he hasn’t been able to play with his teammates. That’s a long time, but he’s not too worried about being out of practice.
He has full confidence in his teammates and the chemistry he has with them.
“We lost a lot of good seniors, a lot of starters, but we have a lot of good players, juniors and seniors and even sophomores who played last year,” McShane said. “We could be really good. We’ve had good teams every year I’ve been here, and we’d go in the playoffs and play really well, but we couldn’t get over the hump. So that’s our goal this year.”
While McShane is gearing up for a season, he’s enjoying his summer staying in North Wildwood with his family. But it’s not all fun and games.
“I work out a lot down here,” McShane said. “I’ll run along the seawall and now I’m starting to go to fields to run. They weren’t allowing anyone on them before because of the coronavirus, but now things are starting to open up a little.”
When he’s not working out, he’s working. And even then, he stays in the sports world.
McShane works the counter at Jurassic Adventure Golf in North Wildwood. He’s better at chipping soccer balls than getting a hole in one, but he’s loving his summer gig.
“I like it a lot because it’s a great place and I see a lot of people who come in, so I get to talk to them,” McShane said. “It’s a great job. The owners are great. It’s good money. I love everything about it. And I’m starting to get into golf.”
McShane is more than just a great soccer player and worker.
He is in all honors classes at Judge and last year had a 4.2 grade point average. He hopes to carry those strong grades into his senior year and then into college.
“I know I want to play soccer, but I haven’t made any decisions yet,” McShane said. “I would play Division II or III, I’ll have to see what happens. I don’t know what direction I want to go in for studies, but maybe business. I like that, but I’m not sure.”
He is sure he wants to have a memorable senior year.
“I just want to play, I know we’re delayed, but I want to play,” McShane said. “I think we have a good chance. The Catholic League is always good, and it’s going to be good this year, but we should be pretty good, too.
“I just want to play. As long as we’re able to play and I can have more games, I’ll be happy. I think this could be a really fun year. It’s my last year so I want to play, especially after not playing last year.”