A York Mills Collegiate grad, who almost lost his life to a rare adolescent disease when he was 12 years old, is the only Canadian male soccer player to earn All-American honours stateside this year.
Daniel Haber, who represented York Mills Collegiate at the top quad-A Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) championships in 2009, was named a First-Team All-American Dec. 7.
Additionally, he was also a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy given to the national U.S. collegiate soccer player of the year (it’s soccer’s equivelant to football’s more well known Heisman Trophy). In his third year with Cornell,
Haber was the top U.S. college player in both points per game (2.53) and goals per game (1.06). That worked out to 43 points, including 18 goals, in 17 games.
That output helped Cornell to its first Ivy League title since 1995 and its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. And Haber’s First Team designation was Cornell’s first since 1973. Haber played his club soccer for the North York-based Spartacus soccer club.
In fact, it was as a 12 year old playing for Spartacus when he went up to head a ball and noticed a bump on his forehead. The other pertinent fact is that at the time he had also been bothered by a sinus infection. Normally the two incidents wouldn’t be conncected but unforunately for Haber they were.
The bump was, basically, a bacterial infection caused by the sinus infection and eating its way to his brain. The rare ghastly ilnness, afflicting primarily adolescents and teens, is called Pott’s puffy tumour.
Luckily, a diagnosis was made in time and he had brain surgery at Toronto Sick Kids by a neurosurgeon literally called back from the parking lot as he was about to head home.
Weeks of hospital time and months of home intravenous treatments followed. After he recovered he did lace up the cleats but was understandably “tentative” and gave up the sport for three years – until resuming it again in Grade 11 at York Mills Collegiate.
Also, understandably, he twice as a teenager (at 13 and 16 years of age), offered to volunteer at Sick Kids only to be told he was too young. He finally got his chance last year during the off-season.
– with files from Torstar Media and Cornell Athletics