Down but Not Out

His only thoughts were on the ball, catching it and then making a play further up the field. He turned just in time to see the hit coming, but was completely blindsided by the ACL tear that would rob him of his senior year of high school sports.

Kaizen Matsuda is described as the kind of guy who makes everyone feel better, a nice guy, a good friend, athlete, and student. He tore his ACL during a pre-season football against Iolani, one week before the season started.

An injury of this magnitude had an effect on the football team.

“There was definitely despair for Kaizen,” Hunter Park, his teammate said. “A lot of people took it hard seeing someone like him who never did anything wrong get hurt in such an accidental and freakish way.”

When Kaizen was initially hurt, he was unaware of the severity of the injury and was completely unprepared for the news. The news hit him like a truck when he realized just how devastating the injury was, and what it meant for him.

“There went my whole senior year of playing high school sports, “ Matsueda said. “I was honestly super bummed and confused, like why did this happen to me?”  

Kaizen Matsuda sprints to the finish line in the 100-meter-dash. He was one of Kalani’s top sprinters during the 2018 Track & Field season. He led the boys’ 4×100 meter team that qualified for the State championship meet. Photo courtesy of K. Matsuda 2018.

Anyone who suffers an injury of this caliber would be devastated, but Kaizen remained a leader for his team. He was determined to stay strong and inspiring for his teammates.

“If the injury did affect Kaizen,” Park said, “he never showed it because he was still the same encouraging and positive person he always was.”

Kaizen’s Track and Field coach weighed in on the matter, who understood just how important sports are in a young man’s life.“I felt bad for him,” head coach Matt Sanders said. “I know how important athletics are to him, Kaizen was one of the top returnees and losing him will make it even more difficult to continue last years success.”

Kaizen is someone people gravitate towards, and this incident is a high hurdle, but after constant thought, he refuses to let this hold him back. Instead, he decided to think of what he can take away from this in a positive and helpful way.

“What I learned from this is you can either take it as a negative thing or convert that and turn it into something positive,” he said.

He has bounced back surprisingly quickly from such a life-changing injury, and it’s something to admire, that his attitude hasn’t changed.

“He just has a positive atmosphere that pulls everyone to him,” Park said.

Kaizen looks at the injury in a positive light and offers inspiration to anyone else who suffers such an unfair and freakish injury. It’s a fitting message for such a positive and genuine guy who is determined to still impact his teammates from the sideline, and remain a good influence for his friends.

“Everything happens for a reason and instead of wasting your time being sad or depressed, look outside and be grateful for the many things you are blessed with,” he said.