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The inspirational journey of Jyla Erandio 

by | Jan 5, 2024 | People, Sports | 0 comments

In the fall of 2022, Jyla Erandio, a current freshman player on the MacEwan Griffins women’s soccer team, was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis, a viral infection that causes inflammation of the thin layers that protect the brain and spinal cord and inflammation of the brain tissue. At the time, Erandio was just 17-years-old and attending highschool. 

Like many kids, Erandio played sports at a young age. By the time she was five-years-old her love for soccer had blossomed and at the age of 10, Erandio’s physical talents truly began to surface.

“I tried out other sports like basketball,” Erandio says. “But things never sparked the way it did with soccer and I’ve loved it ever since.” 

Erandio quickly established herself as an elite athlete and created an illustrious career for herself before turning 18. She represented Alberta on multiple occasions and played in the Alberta Major Soccer League for the Edmonton Scottish Angels at the age of 12, making her the youngest player in league history. 

“On August 31st, 2022, I just blacked out, my body just gave up,” Erandio recalls.

Doctors ran multiple tests on her and received no answers. After a spinal tap, they discovered an increased amount of white blood cells around her spinal cord and brain, resulting in her diagnosis. For Erandio, this began her road to recovery.

“I spoke to different professionals, they all said the same thing: it can be really bad,” explains Erandio’s massage therapist Niki Begg, who has become a close friend of the family. “That’s the thing with encephalitis. You don’t know how the body will respond. So there’s many unanswered questions; it was scary.”

Erandio battled with the condition for months, fighting off the inflammation in her brain and body as she struggled to remember who she was, who her parents were, and how to walk and talk. On Oct. 1, 2022, Erandio attended church with her parents, where they asked their priest to give her a blessing.

“I woke up the next day and started to remember everything, I just snapped out of it,” Erandio says. “The doctors were shocked, they said I was a miracle. I was recovering faster than the average person all because of one blessing and that’s when I started tuning into my faith.”

As Erandio recovered, her faith began to take on a more significant role. It became a source of strength and solace for her, ultimately changing her identity. 

“I would just tell her Bible stories, but all the really good motivating stories, and instead of

focusing on everything she’s lost we started to focus on everything she’s been given back, and

the incredible direction that she has to go,” says Begg. “She became this beautiful, blank canvas for God. You think of all the things that could have happened to her. Instead, she turned it all towards the Lord. She healed and lives with optimism.”

“The doctors were shocked, they said I was a miracle. I was recovering faster than the average person all because of one blessing and that’s when I started tuning into my faith.” — Jyla Erandio, Griffins women’s soccer freshman

Although Erandio had healed and improved her relationship with her faith, she faced many questions after recovering.

“I was questioning whether to keep playing, but the most beautiful part of faith was not giving up and continuing to pursue my dream,” says Erandio. “I mean life hit me now, why figure it out later?”

For Erandio, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Still, through her rediscovered faith, her support system, and her career in soccer, she believes that everything happens for a reason and that her illness was God’s way of bringing her back to her faith. 

“I’ve been told to change my dreams, reach for something that is achievable, but I don’t want the easy way. I’ve already gone the hard way in life, so I may as well continue down that path and see what is in the light,” Erandio says. “As Philippians 4:13 says ‘I can do all things through Christ that strengthen me’ He will always give me the courage to keep pushing and to see the light in life.”

Aleena Aksenchuk

The Griff


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