The College Experience

The College Experience: Keep moving forward

Photo courtesy the Reider family

Editor’s note: “The College Experience” is a weekly first-person series about what it’s really like to be a college soccer player. 

After a not-so-great freshman season, I had at least learned what to expect for a full season at the college level. I knew I had to come in to sophomore year way more fit than the previous season, I had to come in way more technically sharp on the ball, and I had to come in way more hungry to win.

Knowing that I had to be more prepared, I began preparations early in the summer. I would go out early in the mornings to a local field while it was still cool out and do some running on my own. I also was able to play in some kick-around games that were taking place with my high-school team that were also just getting touches before their season. The closer it got to preseason, the more I pushed my body. I didn’t want to have a poor season like freshman year. I wanted to be in a position to help the team.

A week before reporting to preseason, I went out for one last morning workout before giving my body a week to rest up before a difficult upcoming preseason.  I warmed up for about ten minutes before setting off to finish a two-mile run in under 12 minutes. I finished the run as I had intended to do, did some core exercises and then went home to recover.

I hadn’t thought much of it while running, but something must have happened, because when I woke up the next day it felt like someone had hit the front of my leg with a baseball bat.

I tried stretching, icing and anything else one can think of to help it feel better, but to no avail. I figured it was just really sore from all of the running I had done previously, so I thought that maybe the week of rest I was about to take would help it recover in time for preseason.

I reported to campus after the week’s rest was over, but we didn’t have a scheduled practice for two days. I still felt something in my right quad, but figured since it was going away, it was just soreness so I still hadn’t done anything about it. We had meetings for those two days, and afterwards, we began to practice. On that first practice day, I began to warm up with a little bit of discomfort in my leg still, but it was bearable. Then, we began the fitness test like normal on the first day and when we had to sprint, I knew something still wasn’t right. I had to stop. I was nervous to stop. I hadn’t been injured like this before – to the point that I couldn’t run without a lot of pain, especially coming into preseason where the team roster spots were not guaranteed even for returning players.

The coach sent me to the athletic trainers. While I didn’t get any true medical tests done, they suggested it was a really bad quad muscle sprain — and it only got worse since I let it go in hopes that it would heal itself. It didn’t. I was shut down in preseason for over a week – set out only to do some physical therapy rehabilitation exercises. I hoped it would recover soon, and was still pushing to come back. I got an O.K. to try running again, but it still didn’t feel right. I was stuck doing rehab exercises for weeks to try and come back.

I was sidelined for all of preseason, including the scrimmages, and then ten games out of our 16-game season. It was rough watching from the stands when I could have been playing if I hadn’t gotten myself injured. I just had to be supportive from the sideline instead. We had slight improvement from the first season, getting more wins, but still not where we wanted to be; however, when I returned from my injury I felt a lot better and a lot more hungry to play and despite not getting much time sophomore year and the team not reaching the goals we wanted to, I knew that next season was going to be a lot better.

I learned from the injury that while pushing yourself to be better is important, you also have to take care of your body. Also, I learned to not get discouraged if you do get injured. I was nervous I would be cut or lose favor on the team, but luckily the coaching staff was very supportive. They were always checking in on me and once I was able to begin training again helped me get fit quickly so I could start contributing as soon as possible. I had never been sidelined with a significant injury like this one but I learned to never give up and to come back as a stronger player mentally as well as physically for my junior season.

Next time, I will share with you what I felt like when I finally saw improvement from the work I put in, despite being injured, and what a change in culture on a team can do to turn things around.

One Comment

  1. I’m impressed with your wisdom and resilience, especially from one so young. You could have wallowed in the depths of victimhood and self-recrimination, but that is not your way.
    Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *