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For week ended December 05, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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LDS Indoor Soccer Star Named Rookie of Year (Freezz rookie heats up, wins WISL accolade)

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

LDS Indoor Soccer Star Named Rookie of Year (Freezz rookie heats up, wins WISL accolade)
Deseret News 2Dec99 S2
By James Edward: Deseret News sports writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Utah Freezz forward Justin Labrum was named World Indoor Soccer League Rookie of the Year on Wednesday. After a stellar prep career at Brighton High that ended in 1993, Labrum tried out for a Las Vegas professional team but turned down an ensuing contract offer to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Upon returning home from two years in Venezuela, Labrum was enrolled at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne to play college soccer. "It was a little different than I expected," Labrum said. "It was the first time I'd played outside of Utah and it opened my eyes to national soccer, and showed that Utah can play at the national level."

Labrum returned home after his freshman year, sighting homesickness. He soothed his soccer passion with pick-up games and played club soccer, indoors or out. Twenty goals and nine assists later, Labrum has found a nice home with the Utah Freezz in the WISL. "It means a lot because it gives me confidence in myself and tells me I can play with anybody," said Labrum.

On Friday Utah will travel to Sacramento for a WISL semifinal. The Knights have won l2 straight games and have not lost at home this year. Labrum was the only player in the rookie-of-the-year balloting, who received two first-place votes. Shane Jones and Brian Alba, two Freezz teammates, also received votes.

"The odds were in our favor to get a rookie of the year because of the number of rookies we had," said Freezz coach Dave Poggi. "But that doesn't take anything away from Justin, because he's very worthy."

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