It's Your Journey And Your Recovery: What Will You do With it?

It's Your Journey And Your Recovery: What Will You do With it?

Whether or not you overcome adversity is completely up to you.
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As I truly begin my involvement with The ACL Club this fall season, it occurred to me that I have written about appreciating the game, but not about what it takes to get through an injury- whether that be an ACL reconstruction or any other type of devastation. And while I would love to be able to give my readers an exact formula or remedy, I can’t. Every athlete’s experience is different. Every athlete’s personality is different. And that might mean that my advice won’t work for everyone. I’m simply sharing what worked best for me in hopes that athletes everywhere can find my thoughts useful and helpful.

I noticed that the hardest part of each of my recovery processes was the month that followed surgery. For a week and a half, all I could really do was watch TV, read a book (which I never do otherwise), or go to physical therapy just to bend and straighten my leg. This left me more than enough time to fall in a very deep depression, seemingly drowning in my thoughts of playing and how long the next 6 months to a year were going to be. And even when I was walking, it was always so uncomfortable and as if I would never see a day of running without a limp again. After experiencing these feelings 5 different times, I would say that during the awkward and very frustrating month after surgery, it’s best to focus on small goals. If you’re constantly thinking about the end result, and imagining yourself on the field, time is going to go incredibly slow. Learn to appreciate the simple triumphs like walking without a limp, getting full extension and flexing, and being able to lift your leg using only the quadriceps. If you start setting your sights on the goals that are achievable within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll notice that your pride, confidence, and excitement start to return in increments.

And then there’s the three to four-month mark. By now you’re starting to briskly walk or jog and the recovery process is going to hasten a little bit. This is when you’re going to have to adopt some self-discipline. My therapists always reminded me not to get ahead of myself. This is where the newly reconstructed ACL is at its weakest. You’re going to feel ready to do more, and that’s great! But remember: the blood is just now starting to really circulate through that ligament. It’s new and it’s fragile. Don’t push your body farther than it’s willing to go. My best advice at this point is to listen to your gut. It’s going to tell you to take it easy, so relax and understand that there is still a long road ahead. Understand that with patience comes success. Trust me, taking it slow is going to be worth it when you’re playing without pain or set back a year down the road.

I’ll never forget the feeling of stepping back onto the field. It’s the most invigorating, incredible and terrifying feeling in the world. Every time I got to touch a ball, I felt this odd sensation of fear and excitement that would come together like this perfect combination of emotions. Remember, it’s good to be scared, but not too scared. And it’s good to be excited, but not too excited. Playing in fear is dangerous, but don’t be overzealous right when you step on the field. By this, I mean if you’re going to go into a tackle, don’t go in scared. And if you’re nervous at all, just don’t opt for the contact just yet. Play at your speed until you feel ready to jump back in with a vengeance. It’s okay to take your time. No one is rushing you, and if they are, they most likely have never experienced a serious injury before.

It’s going to be hard. There’s no doubt about it. You’re going to be sad, angry, excited, happy, and you’re going to feel these emotions in a way you have never felt them before in your year of recovery. But I am here to tell you that nothing is impossible, and every feeling is temporary. You’re going to struggle, but with that struggle comes strength. You’re going to have successes, but sometimes successes come with small setbacks. The worst thing you can do is lose your self-confidence. Find something that keeps you motivated. For me, it was setting a daily reminder on my phone that a college scholarship waited at the end of my journey. Find what invigorates you the most. Find what makes your skin crawl at the thought of failing. You are the key to your own recovery. Whether or not you succeed, and whether or not you grow as an athlete and a human being is completely up to you. Can you conquer this injury, and can you rise above the adversity to crush those who doubt you? Only you know the answer that.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Ronaldinho: A Gift From The Soccer Gods

It was always exciting to see him wearing that iconic number 10 on his back.

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Watching soccer over the years, I think as fans we have been fortunate to see transcendent talents like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. As great as they are, I don't know if I could ever say they were my favorite players to follow all the time. Its kind of like both Messi and Ronaldo have become the generic response for anyone who briefly talks about soccer because of their reputation and popularity. Similar to how Michael Jordan is well known in basketball or Tiger Woods is thought of in golf. The player I always admired to watch growing up was definitely the magnificent talent that was Ronaldinho.

Growing up seeing someone like Ronaldinho play soccer was out of this world. He had skill moves that would make your jaw drop. Just the way he'd be able to move the ball and place it in areas unreal to the naked eye was pure entertainment. Ronaldinho had balance, elegance, and swagger every time he stepped onto the field. He is one of only seven players to have ever won a FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League title and a Ballon d'Or award. Honestly, it has not been the same since he left the beautiful game back in 2015. Sure, he wasn't the greatest player to ever live or the most prestigious, but I would say Ronaldinho was certainly iconic.

He was a spectacle for the soccer world and I don't think there will be any other player quite like him to be on a pitch ever again. Brazil has been able to produce legends over the years like Pele, Kaka, and Ronaldo. Ronaldinho is definitely one of the athletes on my bucket list to meet someday. His legacy will forever be cemented as one of the greats in my book.

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