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Hart's Cody Seybold: Reverser of fortune

Cody Seybold has helped lead this year’s biggest sports turnaround

Posted: February 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hart senior Cody Seybold has been instrumental in getting the Indians to the CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinals.

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All kidding aside, this Hart boys soccer team is for real.

As confident and carefree as senior defender Cody Seybold usually is, even he had to admit that a turnaround like the one his team has put together this season was unlikely from the start.

"At the beginning of the season, it was like, OK, this team has potential, now we just need to get everyone together," Seybold says.

And the team will get together at least one more time.

With a 1-0 overtime win over University High School of Irvine on Wednesday, the Indians earned a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinals, which will be played at Hart High today at 3 p.m. against Fontana.

It's as deep as Hart has gone into the playoffs since 1983.

The feat is even more impressive considering where the program finished just a year ago - dead last in the Foothill League with an 0-9-1 record.

Seybold, 17, recalls the day he began to believe this 2010-11 squad could muster such a drastic reversal of fortune.

Oddly enough, it was after a loss in the second game of the regular season back on Dec. 2.

It wasn't the fact that the Indians lost 4-3 to Division I Moorpark that day, it was how the team responded after falling behind 3-0 in the game.

They never quit in the game.

So far, they haven't quit once this season.

"Now we're so close that I actually do feel confident that we can win the whole thing," Seybold says.

They didn't get here by accident either.

After last year's disappointing finish, Seybold and some of the other seniors organized volunteer workouts during the summer to give the team that much-needed extra time together.

"We got all of the seniors and he was one of the seniors that said, ‘You know what, let's start working from summer, whether you're doing soccer, doing club season or basketball, whatever you're doing on the side, you need to focus on soccer,'" says Hart head coach Fausto Arana.

Afterward, the difference was like night and day, Seybold says.

"It's really hard to explain. I've never enjoyed going to practice every day, hanging out with all these kids every day," the senior says. "Last year, we'd all show up for practice and say ‘hey' and leave. That's it. This year, we're all hanging out after school and on the weekends and everything and it's just a whole different experience."

Whether it was organizing team bowling nights or outings to the beach, Seybold did everything he could to keep the atmosphere fun and loose among his teammates, as he does every day in practice.

That's been his style in every sport he's played at every level, whether it was American Youth Soccer Organization, high school soccer or high school volleyball.

That's the attitude his former AYSO head coach Jim Niner has always tried to instill.

"It's as much getting into their head and teaching them that they can stay away from the frustration," says Niner, who is also the stepfather of Hart senior midfielder Loy Mueller.

The even-keel, fun-loving manner is also the reason Seybold decided never to play soccer at the club level.

He found club to be far too serious.

"He wanted to be with his friends. He wanted to play with his friends," Arana says. "More than anything, he wanted to have fun playing. ... Don't get me wrong, he's very competitive, but he just wanted to keep that fun part in soccer."

Perhaps it was that liveliness that played a part in attracting returning seniors Uriel Rodriguez and Andrew Trejo, who both opted not to play their junior year, the 0-9-1 year.

While those two have provided Hart's much-needed offensive spark this season, Seybold has been a veteran leader and an essential provider of stability on a young defense.

"They've probably played the key role in sticking through it," says Niner in reference to Seybold, Mueller and the other seniors who stuck around last year. "And I think they are one of the key motivating factors for those guys coming back."

But just like many of Hart's scoring plays this season, it all starts with defense. It all starts with players like Seybold.

"They want to leave a legacy," Arana says of the seniors. "That's one of the biggest things that (Seybold) always said to all of our seniors. Leave a legacy. Make sure people remember who you are."

Given what they've already done, that shouldn't be a problem.



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