With Ozark playing 29 matches over 79 days, or an average of one match every 2.7 days, Micah Thrasher felt he didn’t have much of a choice but to learn to play with pain.
After suffering a sprained left ankle in the pre-season, Thrasher was sidelined for the Tigers’ first six matches. He debuted with the ankle still tender and that’s about how it stayed the rest of the season, all the way to this past weekend's Class 4 Quarterfinal loss to Rockhurst.
“Over the season, it kept getting sprained,” Thrasher said. “It never really had time to properly heal.”
When asked if his ankle was ever 100 percent, the junior forward replied, “I would say no.”
Nevertheless, Thrasher emerged as a valuable hard-charging winger in Ozark’s 24-win season that included a Class 4 District 5 title and a COC championship. He filled his role admirably by consistently tracking down balls along the touchlines for the Tigers.
“He's one of the toughest kids on our team,” coach Zack Owens said. “He can fight through pain. He was hurting in the early part of the season. He was able to get it nursed enough that he was able to really get after it.”
Ozark leaned heavily on its seniors this year. But Thrasher, along with fellow junior Alex Williams and sophomores Carson Sandgren, James Nemeti and Brady Schupp, were among the underclassmen able to prove themselves.
“I gained a lot of confidence,” Thrasher said. “The first part of the season was rough for me. It was hard to gain my confidence back. But by the end of the season, I felt I gained it back and helped the team. I was building up strength and was able to hustle.”
Thrasher values the experience he gained alongside the Tigers’ wide array of senior standouts.
“As an underclassmen, it was an honor to play with those guys,” he said. "This group of seniors and and their skill level, I was blessed to play with them.”
Ozark will be looking for returnees like Thrasher to elevate their roles next season and help the program continue its winning ways. The Tigers have won 23 or more matches four of the past five seasons and netted at least 16 wins each year going back to 2015.
“We need to do a lot of building and fill those spots we are going to lose,” Thrasher said.