JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The biggest support Joey Mueller got was not scoring on the soccer field.
Mueller, the All-News4JAX Boy Footballer of the Year, bounced back from an injury-plagued junior season to shine in his senior year at Creekside. It was more than just Müller’s position change from midfield to forward that opened the door to a breakthrough season.
It was ultimately his health – with the great support of a local physio – that unleashed Mueller’s footballing potential and left him with a renewed focus on his future. The UCF signer had 29 goals and 13 assists for the Knights, leading them to the 1-7A Region Finals and a 15-4-2 season.
More than statistics, however, Mueller’s realization was that his future beyond football could be linked to sports medicine and helping others, just as he was helped in his recovery from sports injuries.
“When you see it firsthand, it’s just different,” Mueller said. “Being the subject of your own experiment is humbling. And I can tell you before I got hurt and all, I’ve never been chronically hurt. I didn’t think about sports medicine or anything like that at all. I guess I didn’t think of that. if anything, it goes down like a business [in college], you know and diversion. This passion developed through injuries and meeting the right person. The rest is history.”
Mueller had a series of ankle injuries during his club season with Florida Elite and was plagued by them for months. He would try to overcompensate for the benefit of his injured ankle and it put his healthy one out of alignment. Tendonitis set in on Mueller’s other foot, throwing his whole body upside down.
That got him on the shelf for all but three games in 2021.
“Obviously it’s a lot more frustrating when you look at it from the sidelines, you see a lot more of the stuff that’s not pretty,” Mueller said. “I mean I missed it. These were my good older friends. I had a really good connection with them and it was a pain not being able to contribute to their season.”
That frustration ultimately led to appreciation when Mueller reached out to Valerie Spees, a local physical therapist, who helped completely transform his health and recovery.
Mueller said Spees has been key to his senior season and has given him a new perspective on how the athletic performance side of things works. Mueller said he was so inspired by the work Spees has done for him and several friends that it propelled him in a new direction off the field. Mueller said he will be majoring in kinesiology in college at UCF.
“Feeling like I can help someone else through what I’ve been through is really cool for me, and I definitely appreciate keeping the body healthy,” he said. “And now that I’m here, having been healthy for quite some time now, I appreciate the performance side.”
With a fit and balanced physique, Mueller was electric on the field for the Knights in 2022. The physical abilities have always been there, but the confidence that complete health instilled was evident.
Mueller started out as a central midfielder for the Knights but said he felt he wasn’t doing enough to help in that position. So Mueller said coach Cameron Crandall put him in the front seat and things changed immediately.
“It was just lights out,” he said. “When I got up there it was like I had confidence and then I started producing all these goals and I just couldn’t stop. It was so much fun.”
ALL-NEWS4JAX BOYS SOCCER FIRST TEAM
Position, Player, School, Class
D Sean BreuerBolle, Sr.
Had 13 assists and 4 goals for the Bulldogs and also played a bit in midfield. Second team All-News4JAX selection last year.
D Christian FischerStanton, Sr.
Serious production from his defender role. Had 17 goals, 5 assists for 18-6-2 Blue Devils.
D Sasha MaricMandarin, Sun.
Had 2 assists and a goal but was a total lockdown defender for state semifinalists Mustangs.
f Diego BarreraSt. Augustine, Sr.
He was the region’s top scorer, hitting the net 33 times and having 6 assists.
f Joey Mueller, Creekside, Sr.
All-News4JAX Player of the Year had a breakthrough last season for the Knights. Had 29 goals and 13 assists for 15-4-2 regional finalists Knights. Has signed with UCF.
F/MF Antonio MancinottiMandarin, Jr.
Had 30 goals and 15 assists for the 17-4 Mustangs and led the team to the Class 7A Semifinals. Has scored double-digit goals in each of his three seasons. Has 51 goals, 38 assists in his career. Second team All-News4JAX selection last year.
f Martin PinierosBishop Kenny, Sr.
Had 12 assists, 11 goals for 16-9-1 Crusaders. Second team All-News4JAX selection last year.
MF Brogan DonnellyNease, Jr.
Led the Panthers in goals (13) and assists (8) while playing most minutes on the team (1,654).
MF Michael HilbertPonteVedra, Sr.
Versatile player 3 goals and 3 assists for the Sharks, who finished 16-1-3.
MF Braden HillEichenblatt, Sr.
Had 17 goals and 12 assists for the 16-2 Knights. Signed with Florida Southern.
MF Andres VillasanaPonte Vedra, Jr.
Scored 8 goals and assisted 6 others for 16-1-3 Sharks.
GC Lincoln huntBolle, Sr.
Top goaltender mentioned by area coaches and two-time All-News4JAX pick. Halved his goals allowed (from 16 in 2021 to 8 this year). Made 68 saves and had 0.53 goals against average.
Pos., Player, School, Class
D ZackBenderCreekside, Sr.
D Sam GrantStanton, Sr.
D Will MooreBolle, Sr.
f Cade GreenwaldPonteVedra, Sr.
f CJ JoynerSuwannee, Sr.
f Akiendele-May-ParkerOakleaf, Jr.
MF Joseph AlbertoStanton, Sr.
MF Matthew MaleFlemish Island, Sr.
MF Diman MathlinBartram Trail, Jr.
MF Adis MesicMandarin, Jr.
MF Luke WilliamsBartram Trail, Jr.
GC Sebastian BrunerStanton, Sr.
Pos., Player, School, Class
f Pedro AlarconMandarin, Sr.
D Bruno AlveAtlantic Coast, Jr.
f Drew AmmonOakleaf, Jr.
GC Max BennettRidgeview, Sr.
D Evan BoehmsCreekside, Sun.
D Ryan BorsheimLehm, Sr.
f Kai CarringtonFletcher, Jr.
f Myles ClymerFlagler Palm Coast, Sr.
f jesus cruzCrescent City, Jr.
D Phillip CruzSt. Augustine, so.
D Logan Daileyflemish island,
D Will DannheimBishop, Sr.
MF dr detlefsenSt. Johns CD, Sr.
GC Brogan EarleyBartram lane, like this.
D Shepherd EasonFlemish Island, Sr.
MF noah foodFlemish Island, Sr.
f Jacob GrastonSt. John’s Country Day, Jr.
f Cooper GriffisBaker County, Sr.
f Nathan HawaraBishop Kenny, Sr.
MF Chan HrinWolfson, Jr.
MF Ryan HuntSt. Joseph, Sr.
MF Joseph JimenezBishop Kenny Jr.
f Sebastian JoinvilleJule, Jr.
GC Ben KopachMatanzas, Jr.
f Jack LeakBolle, Sr.
MF Nick LentschCreekside, Sr.
f Jonathan LucasPonteVedra, Sr.
D William ManautMenendez, Jr.
D Jake McGowanPonteVedra, Sr.
GC Brendan McNeilSt. Johns CD, Sr.
GC Jake MoranBishop Kenny, Sr.
D Isaiah MorganFletcher, Sr.
D Aaron NovakPonteVedra, Sr.
D Kristian PalanikMandarin, Jr.
f Roje SaadiEngelwood, Sr.
f Logan SpenceKeystone Heights, Jr.
MF Ryan SwelaFletcher, Sr.
MF Abraham WilsonSt. Joseph, like that.
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