Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Rockwall's Micah Day perseveres past life-altering experience in Haiti that claimed 200,000 lives
ROCKWALL — Micah Day hadn’t played much organized soccer before high school. So it seems amazing that he could make the Rockwall varsity as a freshman, and only two years later be the leading scorer for the District 12-5A champions.
But unorganized soccer has its value, too.
“I played my whole life in Haiti,” said Day, a junior who has scored 22 goals this season. “Down there, we played all the time. On Saturdays, we’d go to the fields and play.”
Day, 18, lived in Haiti for 12 years with his family, which includes older sister Natalie (20) and younger brothers Noah (16) and Kevin (10). His parents, Denny and Susie Day, did missionary work in Port-au-Prince and helped at the non-denominational house-fellowship church created by Susie’s parents. Micah Day speaks English along with Haiti’s two official languages: French and Creole.
“It was beautiful there. We had the beach and the mountains,” he said. “I think I would still be there, if it hadn’t happened.”
What happened was a magnitude-7.0 quake that struck on Jan. 12, 2010. The death toll of the quake, which was centered about 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, is estimated at more than 200,000.
Day was playing basketball on an outdoor court in Port-au-Prince when the ground began to shake on a Tuesday afternoon. A rumble grew into an angry roar.
“I thought the earth was going to split,” Day said.
Day looked over beyond the school he attended and saw a building collapse. It was one of the many structures that the earthquake flattened in the metropolitan area of two million people.
“I saw a lot of bad things,” Day said. “People with terrible injuries, people pinned under buildings, dead bodies.”
Almost miraculously, the only family member injured was Susie Day, who was inside the house fellowship when the earthquake struck. The house fellowship, which served as a home for her parents and a church, collapsed. She was hit by falling stones and suffered cuts and bruises, but was not injured severely.
In the days that followed, Micah and his dad retrieved items from the collapsed house. Micah also helped his mother, a nurse, tend to people who were living in a makeshift tent village on one of the soccer fields.
When the earthquake happened, the grandparents were in Florida buying a retirement home. The rest of the family had planned to move back to Texas later in the year.
“The earthquake moved everything up,” Denny Day said.
A week after the quake, the only family member still in Haiti was Denny.
The former TCU baseball player, who was a teacher and physical education coach at a school in Port-au-Prince, stayed behind to help with aid efforts.
The rest of the family settled in Sunnyvale, and when Denny returned from Haiti in the summer, they moved to Rockwall. Micah first tried out for the basketball team, which made sense for the cousin of former Rockwall basketball players Haley Day, who played at SMU, and Morghen Day, who signed with Sam Houston State in November.
But Day, who also has four assists for Rockwall (23-3), flourished in soccer with the ball-control skill he developed in Port-au-Prince.
“In Haiti, because of the terrain they play on, they have to have good ball control,” Denny Day said. “They have to play it close to them.”
That might give Day an advantage, said Rockwall coach Troy Williams, whose team will open the playoffs Thursday.
“I think in our youth soccer training today, we’re missing a lot of that stuff where kids pick it up instinctively,” Williams said. “Micah definitely has the instincts. He’s also very coachable and just a pure athlete.”
Day would like to play college soccer and is starting to get some attention from recruiters. He would also like to return to Haiti one day, but hasn’t been back since the earthquake.
Denny Day, who now works as a mobilizer for CrossWorld, an international Christian outreach organization, last visited Haiti in January.
He tells his kids to remember the good times and the lessons they learned in Haiti, but also tells them how Port-au-Prince has changed.
“We want them to have a realistic picture of what it would be like to live in Haiti now,” Denny Day said. “It was a third-world country before the earthquake, and after the earthquake, the infrastructure was just devastated. It’s going to take a generation to recover.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.