This summer, Socastee graduate Jiovany Rendon will be taking his game to the next level.
But before that he will have chance to showcase his talent on an even bigger stage.
Rendon was named to the Colombian national team, which will compete during the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in Denver, Colo. from July 10-19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Rendon is the youngest player on the team at 18 years old and sees the FIL World Championship as an opportunity to learn more about the game and prepare for college play. Rendon has committed to play lacrosse at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Penn.
“I’m only 18 and the youngest player on the team. [It will be] just a good experience,” Rendon said. “I can’t really explain how I feel, I’m going to just learn as much as I can and get ready for college.”
Colombia will be competing in it’s first ever FIL World Championship, and Rendon is proud to represent the country.
“With Colombia starting it’s first national team, and knowing that I’m helping build the program; I just can’t believe it,” Rendon said. “A lot of kids play in this tournament when they leave college and I’m doing coming out of high school. It’s just a dream come true really.”
Socastee lacrosse coach Matt Fox, who coached Rendon in high school, told him about the vacancy in Colombia’s team and Rendon was very interested. Fox said he sent the coach a tape, and the coach liked what he saw enough to offer Rendon a spot on the team, which he gladly accepted.
“I found out about it through U.S. Lacrosse, the governing board of lacrosse for the United States. The Colombia national team was seeking Americans who were descendents of Colombian nationals, essentially,” Fox said. “Since both of his parents are Colombians, he applied and had to go through a process there with the coach and was asked for some film since he couldn’t see him in person. His name was thrown in a hat with a bunch of other kids and the coach selected him and three other American kids with collegiate ties. The film he showed was from this season and his hard work really paid off with the opportunity.”
Said Rendon: “There were four of us [in the running] and I would say it was by luck. At first, I was going to just travel and be on a practice squad but then the coach said a few guys ended up falling off the roster and the coach asked me to join. He never met me but saw the film I sent, and I accepted. I just broke down and was happy he gave me a chance to be on the team.”
Fox said Rendon was one of the best lacrosse players to come through Socastee, and praised him for his dedication to the game.
“As an individual he’s a great worker. He was great for us,” Fox said. “He was up for nomination for All-American for our state and just missed out. He’s the second-best midfielder in the state. He’s a great worker, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He was our guy and our offense revolved around him. If it weren’t for his style and aggressive play, we wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. He plays good defense and scores plenty of goals. He’s top notch, one of the best we had in a long time.”
There are 38 total teams competing in the FIL World Championship, with Colombia competing in the turquoise division (Colombia, Finland, Mexico, Spain). ESPN will provide unprecedented coverage of the FIL World Championship, showing approximately 60 games across its networks and via ESPN3. The semifinals and championship game will be televised live on ESPNU, and all U.S. team games will be included in the package.
“This will be a great opportunity for him,” Fox said. “Playing against some of the top players in the world right out of high school, he’s going to learn a lot from watching those players as well as playing against those types of players. This well certainly be advantageous going into his first year of college. You ask a lot of kids, ‘hey what did you do this summer?’ and a lot of them will tell you they had a job or traveled or something. [Jiovany] can say he played in what is the equivalent of the Olympics in our sport. He can only get better. Skill-wise some of the guys are probably better than him, but knowing the player he is, he will learn a lot.”
Meanwhile, with Colombia just being in the FIL National Lacrosse Championship, the country will get funding from the government sports department and will create a ripple effect of increased interest in the sport and will allow them to start youth, high school and university programs, according to Colombia’s fundraising site at indiegogo.com. Rendon is excited to be a part of it all.
“It’s just something so big that I can’t really explain,” Rendon said. “I can’t believe it and knowing I can be one of the helpers of it. I’m going to college get a business degree and minor in atheltic training and I want to one day move to Colombia and help kids out with lacrosse. I want to move down there to make it big as possible and just grow the sport.”
And it’s just the beginning for Rendon.
“I’m expecting to learn the most I can and become a better lacrosse player,” he said. “But to build the sport and help kids out in the sport is my dream. I want kids to know me and say, ‘hey, that’s Jiovany Rendon.’”
Contact MAX McKINNON at 626-0302.