“A setback is a setup for a comeback.” (Jakes) Any athlete knows when you hear a pop anywhere in your body, something isn’t right. I remember hearing my knee pop and time froze like someone hit pause on a tv remote, and in that moment I knew I tore my ACL. I knew I was not going to play the sport I love for a long time, and it easily effected me mentally. However, I would not change what had happened to me whatsoever.
I started playing soccer when I was four years old. I wanted to be just like my dad, he played for twentyfive years. When I was young he would make me practice every day in our backyard, teaching me how to dribble, what foot to kick with, how to throw the ball, all the basics about soccer. Growing up I was a heavier child and I couldn’t keep up with anyone, but that changed when I turned ten years old. After that my soccer career took off. I was scoring goals left and right which made me want to play club soccer and to advance myself further into my soccer career. I made a lot of progress that lead me to the high school team. I was one out of four freshman making varsity and I was absolutely scared for my life like the first drop in a roller coaster. I was thirteen playing with eighteen year old girls who were faster, stronger, smarter, and more physical than I was. I did everything in my power to be better, my dad and I trained in my backyard just like we did when I was five, practicing small drills.
I was playing soccer six days a week, club practice every Tuesday, Thursday and high school practice Monday through Friday for two months. My body was never used to this much playing. I was fifteen years old when I tore my ACL. I was playing defense and I was running next to the other player when she did a move against me and my body went left while my left knee stayed in place. I heard a extremely loud pop and I froze, I did not know what to do. I tried taking a step and instantly a strong pain went throughout my whole body. It felt as if I was getting hit in the knee with a hammer over and over again. I can barely hear my mom and dad asking me from the sideline if I am okay because I was screaming in pain. My coach ran to the field and asked me, “Brooke what is going on!?” Sobbing I said, “I heard a pop, I heard a pop.” I was taken off the field and taken to urgent care where they told me after an X-ray was taken it was just a sprain and to take one week off. As I did, I did not walk on it for a week. I returned to practice and my knee popped again and I knew something was wrong. We went to my orthopedic surgeon and got an MRI. Which is a magnetic field and radio wave that shows images of ligaments, organs, and tissue in your body. He shook my hand and told me, “You tore your ACL and partial MCL, I recommend not playing soccer again.” Those words to this day still give me chills. After processing what he had just told me I instantly thought all my hard work faded away like the lines on a soccer field.
Around fourteen years old I would constantly hear about a lot of young girls tearing their ACL. I never understood what an ACL tear meant. An ACL in your knee is one of the most important ligaments it holds your knee in place and too much stress on that ligament can cause a tear or a snap. An ACL is basically a rubber band in your knee that connects from the front to the back and if it snaps then you have a complete tear. Seeing in high school how many girls tore their ACL amazed me, it is so common to this day and the amount of tears has increased by 4% since 2013. They can be healed with
out surgery if it’s a slight tear, but if it is completely torn surgery is the only option.
Once I got surgery in June 2013, I did everything in my power to get better. After, I was using the machines they gave me to not let my knee get stiff. I wanted to play and come back stronger. Unfortunately, during the process of recovering there was complications with my nerves which delayed my progress on getting back on the field. Once my nerves healed, I pushed myself to learn how to jump again, it sounds so easy but it’s one of scariest things to learn again after surgery. Every goal I had on getting better I made. I was cleared to play in one year exactly from the date of the surgery.
My first practice I felt like my five year old self all over again. I had to learn how to run sprints without worrying if my knee is going to tear or pop. I had to learn how to kick the soccer ball again and not be afraid to get pushed around out on the field. I had to learn to trust my body in order to prevent other injuries. I worked hard for a year, I became captain for my high school team, and club team. I worked hard to show people one injury does not set you back, it makes you love the game even more. However, my first game back from my injury in high school I tore my right ACL. I knew after that it was going to be too much for my body to continue playing. My surgeon said it is very common to tear the other one six months to a year after being cleared to play. My soccer career ended after my surgery in 2015. I decided to share my story with becoming a soccer coach.
Even though I can not play the sport I loved, I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. I became mentally stronger as well. I came back and realized that I would never be the same player again but I learned to have faith in myself. That God did this for a reason, and I would never think to say this but I am thankful this injury happened to me. It showed me how much patience I have in myself and how much people support me. Learning how to play soccer again was not easy, but I would do it all over again.