In contrast, this year it seems like I’m prepared for every aspect of school - apart from soccer. Tearing my ACL in the winter makes this preseason intimidating in an entirely different way. It is definitely overwhelming to go into the season after having not played soccer in over 6 months. Any other athlete that has come back from an ACL (or any other serious injury) can sympathize with my fear of getting back on the field. However, I think the best part of going into this year, as opposed to last, is that I know that I have a great group of teammates and coaches and therefore I have the best support system anyone could have and they are really helping me get back.
I cannot tell what has gone by faster, this summer or my rehab? Although it now seems overly dramatic, at times it felt like I would never play again. Yet now I can finally see that light at the end of the tunnel - and it’s only getting brighter. It only took hundreds of hours of painful rehab, chasing down hundreds of over-kicked balls and a few tearful calls home but I’m finally almost playing again!! This makes the upcoming season all the more special to me and I can’t wait to get back on that field at Rudd. Of course there are still times of frustration, especially when it comes to getting back in shape. My “new” knee can still only take so much at any one time, which is a little disappointing because I’m use to being able to pushing myself much harder. It’s amazing how much damage 6 months and surgery can do. The road to getting back to soccer shape will definitely continue to be a difficult one going into preseason.
It was really gratifying to be able to answer any questions the girls had about UMass soccer, the school’s academic rigors and campus social life. Kristen and I shared all of our college tips and even a few funny stories about the team and coaches. I think it was nice for them to hear that we do have a lot of fun - despite all the soccer we play. Some of my favorite memories of the year are during preseason where it was just us girls living together in the dorms where we were forced to find any form of entertainment we could. It’s safe to say we have watched almost every YouTube video and painted our nails every color imaginable. Preseason is tough, but it is also a great bonding time for the team and I expect the next 15 days to be no different.
A lot has changed since I entered preseason as a freshman, but now I know that I can survive it. I know what to expect when it comes to training and traveling and when it comes to juggling soccer, school and a social life. I was able to secure myself a spot on the team while doing well in school. I might have been injured a few times too many but I’ve also healed and learned what it takes to come back. Most importantly, I learned that the season and year fly by. I can’t believe that a year has passed and I’m already packing my things to go again. This year has a lot of potential and I know it will fly by fast, so I plan on cherishing every second of it.