The Whetstone High School boys soccer team likely wouldn't have hit the hot streak it enjoyed during the first three weeks of September without the boost it received from senior forward Suding Seiter.
The Whetstone High School boys soccer team likely wouldn’t have hit the hot streak it enjoyed during the first three weeks of September without the boost it received from senior forward Suding Seiter.
Beginning with the Braves’ 5-0 victory over Independence on Sept. 6 and over the next fives games, Seiter scored five goals to lead a stretch in which they won five of six contests to bounce back from a rough start.
Seiter’s progression has been a big step forward after he was a backup last season and literally is mountains away from the experiences he had growing up.
Before first attending Columbus City Schools as a sixth-grader at Dominion Middle School, Seiter was adopted from an orphanage in Changsha in the Hunan province of central China in January 2005.
“(Contributing to the soccer team has) been a great opportunity,” Seiter said. “I have so much fun doing this. I’m going to miss this so much, and I love all of these guys. They’re so much fun to be around.”
Seiter first was brought to the United States by a philanthropic organization in fall 2002 when he was 9 years old to receive treatment for burn scars that were impeding the motion of one of his arms.
Jeff Seiter and Lonnie Anderson, who previously had adopted two children and had met some people involved in the organization, were given an opportunity to house Suding for a year while he recovered from the treatment.
A couple months into his stay, he uttered a phrase in broken English that the Seiter family still hasn’t forgotten: “I want you be my mommy.”
After undergoing treatment for a year in the U.S., Suding returned to his orphanage in China for 15 months while the Seiter family completed adoption proceedings.
Suding’s older siblings, senior Grace Seiter, who attends the Graham School, and freshman Nina Seiter, who attends Whetstone, were adopted from China and Russia, respectively, as infants.
“About 99 percent of adoptions from China are girls,” Jeff Seiter said. “Our oldest daughter was one of the first three or four kids from Columbus who were adopted from China, but that was 18 years ago. We got this email one day from a group from Indianapolis that had been bringing over kids who needed things like eye surgeries, cleft palates, and they had a group of kids who were burn victims that they brought over in 2002. The kids ranged from (age) 17 down to 3, and because of the serious nature a couple of them went back quickly, but two or three stayed (in the U.S.). These kids didn’t come here to be adopted.
“To start our adoption process, we had to send (Suding) back there not knowing whether we’d see him again. We had a phone number and arranged to call him every two weeks at something like 7 in the morning and we talked to him a little bit. It was interesting. It was heartbreaking.”
Suding, who doesn’t know how he suffered the burns over much of his body but believes they occurred when he was an infant, said the scarring “doesn’t really bother me.”
Although he had little opportunity to compete athletically while living in China, according to his adopted father, Suding has enjoyed taking a shot at several sports while at Whetstone.
In addition to trying baseball and swimming, he competed for the football team in August and early September before electing to focus on soccer.
Suding also joined Columbus City Schools’ boys club lacrosse team in 2010 and became one of its top players last spring.
It’s been a long road toward athletic success considering Suding’s past and the fact that he stands about 5-foot-7.
“A friend introduced me to lacrosse my sophomore year and I loved it,” Suding said. “I think I like lacrosse better than soccer and I think I’m better at it, too.”
“He is pretty fearless out there, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch him,” Jeff Seiter said. “He’s never really done anything in the way of athletics certainly in an organized level before, and he was very excited to try anything he could. Soccer and lacrosse have both really sparked some interest in him. He was kind of disappointed that he didn’t get to play more (soccer) last year, but they had a dozen seniors and he did get in a fair amount. Because of that, I think he’s a little more determined this year.”
Whetstone was 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the City League before playing Mifflin on Sept. 27.
The Braves lost to Brookhaven 5-1 on Sept. 13 but beat Beechcroft 4-3 on Sept. 15, Logan 2-1 on Sept. 17 and Columbus West 3-1 on Sept. 20 before falling to Jonathan Alder 3-0 on Sept 22.
Suding’s play throughout a stretch during which he has been battling a sprained ankle, according to coach Kerry Nixon, has been among the team’s biggest surprises.
“(Suding) has just really stepped up his work ethic,” Nixon said. “This is the first group of players that has been with me since their freshman season, and it’s been great to see him progress and become one of our key players. He’s a great kid. He’s a little on the quiet side, but he’ll surprise you when he starts competing. He’s always asking questions. This year’s he’s just seized every opportunity.”
Suding, who says he’s “forgotten a lot” of the Mandarin Chinese he spoke as a child, lists Northeastern University in Boston as his No. 1 college choice.
Despite only speaking English for a few years, he has a 4.0 grade-point average. He’s considering majoring in math in college with a possible minor in Mandarin or engineering.
“(Northeastern) is in downtown Boston and I visited there over the summer and loved the campus,” Suding said. “I could imagine myself being happy there.”