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Cheney goalie Joe Scott and his Blackhawks are aiming for the State 2A boys soccer championship. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Scott defeats tumor at age 9, now stars in Cheney Blackhawks goal

Every day on the soccer field, the decisions come flying at Joe Scott: stay in the goalkeeper’s box or come out and challenge. Seize the moment or let it seize him.

“I like the pressure,” said Scott, a senior at Cheney High School who steps a little livelier than most 18-year-olds because he faced down an even bigger challenge at the age of 9.

That’s when he began to pick up strange smells that no one could explain. His parents discounted the signs until Joe’s grandmother, a nurse, urged the family to see a doctor, who found a tumor in Joe’s brain.

It was benign, the family was told, but it would grow and need periodic treatment. Quality of life would be impaired, but manageable. Nothing benign about that.

Surgery was risky. “They told me there was a possibility of losing some of my vision, that I might move a little slower,” Joe said.

Parents Brian and Jody weighed in, but “it was his call,” said Brian, a major in the Washington Air National Guard.

With the blessing of Brian and Jody, 9-year-old Joe seized the moment and opted for surgery. “I just wanted to live a normal life,” Joe said.

To that end, in the weeks before surgery, Brian put Joe through an intense training regimen to strengthen him for surgery: including sit-ups and sprints along the lake near Tacoma where they lived until moving to Spokane a few years later.

On, Dec. 16, 2004, the tumor was removed with no complications; Joe was back home in two days. There was a scar, and Joe began to wear a helmet during soccer matches, just in case.

He also wears an irrepressible enthusiasm for life. “There was something from the surgery that made me want to work harder at everything I do because I feel like I was given a second chance at life,” said Joe.

That includes soccer, which took a back seat to football until the Scott family, including Joe and three sisters, moved to Spokane five years ago. “Soccer was a lot bigger over here,” said Joe, who moved into goal at the same time.

He played at the club level with the Spokane Express, a Select team, and on the second attempt, he made the Spokane Shadow roster. “My mom’s been my biggest cheerleader,” said Joe, who’s down to his last few games with the Cheney Blackhawks, who’ve won everything in the last five years except the State 2A title.

“We are extremely movivated as a team,” Joe said. “It’s truly our heart and how hard we work, with the team bonding on and off the field.”

And after that, Joe will play in goal at Concordia University in Portland, which offers a degree in Homeland Security. Brian gets the credit for that one. “By a stroke of luck he saw that they had a new degree that fits what I want to do,” said Joe, an honors student who carries a 3.8 grade-point average.