Heart on and off the field, Westminster player grateful for second chance


Michael Almond can play most things on a field, and he can play them well. Soccer is his love, football another passion. Both almost knocked away from the Westminster junior, quicker than a kick off a tee.

(WRDW-TV)

Oct. 29, 2013 Augusta, GA-- Michael Almond can play most things on a field, and he can play them well.

Soccer is his love, football another passion. Both almost knocked away from the Westminster junior, quicker than a kick off a tee.

"Going in to it, I was telling my mom. There can't be anything wrong with me. They're not going to find anything wrong with me," Almond said.

In April, the GISA all-state soccer and all-region football player, went for a physical after a hard hit to his chest. What the doctors found didn't add up.

"(We) kind of didn't understand...how could this be," Michael's mom, Gina Almond said. "Everybody thought as athletic as he is, how could he have a heart issue?"

Cardiomyopathy, or a weak heart became the concern. Playing sports was completely out of the question, at least five months without any sort of physical activity.

However, the certainty of Michael's life had become an even larger concern.

"I don't think I ever wrapped my mind around that fact that I could never play sports again just because it's always been a big part of my life," Michael said.

After three different doctors, nine heart MRI's, 10 hospital visits, finally the numbers added up for the Almond family. Michael had been cleared to play. The doctors diagnosis-- an athlete's heart.

Given clearance, Almond set his sights on Friday night.

"You know, it was five months of storing all that up and...he let go," Michael's dad, David Almond said.

On Sept. 13, Michael left his heart on the field-- 5 catches, 70 yards and an emotional win against crosstown rival Augusta Prep.

"He was emotional after the game. Just the feeling of being able to say I'm back, I'm back 100%," Westminster coach Andrew Bryan said.

"It was just a moment of beauty. Just touching the grass, getting hit, catching footballs, people cheering. It was something that I had missed," Almond said.

Michael had his heart back healthy, and his heart on the field alive, as ever. Though, a new perspective on life was his greatest acquisition.

"You never know when you're last game is going to be. That correlates to life too," Almond said. "You should never take anything for granted because you never know when it can be taken away from you."


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