Tough breaks

Soccer rivals united by season-ending injuries

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JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Johnny Dance, left, from Coeur d'Alene High sits in the living room of Kyler Floch from Post Falls High during a visit Wednesday to discuss the accident from a soccer game Monday that caused matching injuries for the two high school seniors.

Sometimes an injury means sitting out a few games. Or a season. Even taking a second look at an athlete's future.

An underwhelming high school finale is what lies ahead for Kyler Floch and Jonathan Dance, after the teens' scrappy instincts resulted in them accidentally breaking each others' legs at a soccer match on Monday.

"All I could think was, 'Oh man,'" said Jonathan, Coeur d'Alene High School varsity player, crutches beside him during a visit to Kyler's home on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's what you hope never happens," added Kyler, with Post Falls High School varsity, his splinted foot propped in front of the TV with soccer on the screen.

The injuries mean being sidelined for the last three games of both seniors' high school soccer careers. Neither will play in the state soccer tournament in Kootenai County next week.

But their broken limbs provide something else: A new friendship.

And a really interesting story.

"I've never seen that on my field in 10 years of coaching," said Gabe Lawson, Post Falls varsity soccer coach.

Let's call the collision a brutal testament to both boys' power.

It was the first half of a 5A region 1 championship game between Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls high schools on Monday, when the ball crossed over and both players sprang into action.

Kyler, playing defender, heaved back his right leg, as did Jonathan, forward and midfield player. Both geared up to transfer an explosion of kinetic energy.

Their legs shot forward. But instead of blasting the ball into oblivion, their shin guards slammed together, releasing a thunderous crack that both families testify was heard throughout the stands.

Both teens said the pain only gripped them after they hit the ground.

"It was clean. It wasn't like we were trying to hurt each other," Jonathan said.

After they collided, "I didn't even want to look at my leg," he added.

Each received X-rays revealing their right legs boasted a broken tibia, the larger of the two bones that holds us up from ankle to knee.

Kyler's is broken clean through, Jonathan's about three-fourths of the way through.

Kyler will soon be fully casted like Jonathan. Then it's months of healing and physical therapy.

"I figured the sooner I got the news I could get back out there, but it wasn't the news I wanted," said Kyler, who, like Jonathan, doesn't plan to play after high school.

Tough luck, their parents agreed.

"I had high hopes for Jonathan. I love watching him play soccer," said his mother, Julienne. "I'm feeling it for him."

At least the situation has bonded a Trojan and a Viking.

Both boys, who didn't know each other prior, made an effort to track down the other's number. Texting often, they have stumbled across a slew of uncanny parallels.

They're both 17, blond-haired, blue-eyed, freckled and 5-feet 8-inches. Both have played soccer since they were 3, and call it their primary sport.

Both even wear the number 4 on their jersey.

"Just take the word 'unfortunate,' and put it before the 4," said Michael, Kyler's dad.

But the double take happens when they compare their X-rays. The sliver is in the same place, about three-fourths down the bone. It could be the same image.

"I don't know what the chances are of all of those coincidences," said Suzanne, Kyler's mother.

The circumstances are "unusual," conceded Jeff Lake, Coeur d'Alene High's varsity soccer coach.

"It's also devastating for me as a coach," Lake said. "Johnny just works so hard all the time. It couldn't happen to a better kid."

Lawson called Kyler's injury a "significant loss" for the team.

"I'm not sure I ever even subbed him in two years," Lawson said. "He's a tenacious player, speedy, one who never gives up at any moment. He's got a motor that never quits."

At the very least, the boys have someone to relate to through it all.

On Wednesday, they threw out ideas for skiing on wheelchairs, and roving around together in a golf cart, decorated half Trojan gear, half Viking.

They'll cheer on their teammates in lawn chairs, they agreed.

"Let me know if you find any good movies and feel like you can come over," Jonathan said.

Maybe they'll be friends for life, Suzanne said.

And again, they have the story.

"We're proud of them," Suzanne said. "They laid it all out on the line. They were both giving 110 percent out there to make that goal."

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Coeur d'Alene High's Johnny Dance writhes in pain after breaking his right leg during play Monday during the 5A Region 1 championship game against Post Falls High.


JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Kyler Floch, left, from Post Falls High and Johnny Dance from Coeur d'Alene High have their picture taken with their jerseys and crutches following a visit to Floch's home Wednesday.

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