An experience to remember

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An experience to remember

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It was around noon on Sunday, Oct. 7, and I was making my way down to the lobby of our hotel. The team had two hours before we were supposed to head back to the field, and we were hoping that homework would help get our minds off what was about to come — the soccer finals.

The team that was going to arrive at 7 o’clock that night was not the same team that arrived the night before. The night before resulted in a tie on the soccer field; a tie that should have been a loss we could learn from. Instead, we were granted a second chance, to play the same team, at a different time. We had a hunger instilled inside of us by our coach — to go out onto the field and not let anything stop us from winning.

Simply put, this was far from the truth.

As we stepped onto the field, all our worries drifted away and we were handed the ball by a young referee. He smiled at me and cracked a joke to brighten the cloudy day. I set the ball down onto the faded circle and impatiently waited for the whistle to be blown.

14 minutes went by and we were already tired. The other team was finding ways around our playing and our frustration was spreading through the field. An opponent had kicked the ball in the air all the way from the center, to the corner flag. We all shifted downward towards the flag to where another opponent was racing. She had managed to get the ball, pass our defense and cross the ball into player number 13 who then scored on our keeper. We had started to overthink, and that never makes anything better in a game.

We told each other to keep our heads up and be hungry, just as coach had told us. Our coach screamed at us, telling us that it had only been 15 minutes and that we needed to get the ball up.

I set the ball down once again and did the same play, hoping for a different outcome. There it was: A beautiful ball sent down the right flank just for me. I ran onto it as my teammate, Rebecca Brewer, overlapped me in case I needed help. My coach’s voice resonated in the back of my head. “Take her on Jenna, please go in honey, stop doing nonsense.”

It was the final game of the tournament, and I wasn’t here for nonsense. I moved my way in to take on my opponent, number 99: A girl about my height, more muscular with a pale white face. I kicked the ball past her and as I did, more people surrounded me to get it.

99 stayed with me and didn’t leave. She kicked at my feet as if the ball was still there, but it wasn’t. It was just my feet that she swept right up from underneath me. I fell on my right foot: my kicking foot, the strongest part of me, the best part of my game.

Falling incorrectly, I sat up. My shoe had fallen off. I moved my foot away from where I fell to see a dislocation in my ankle. My gold and black shoe was still on with the laces perfectly tied. But, my foot had been pulled out to the right in a horrifically wrong way. It looked as if my foot was flexible enough to make a 360 around my ankle. I was shaking up a storm and somehow managed to pop it right back into place with no pain until the aftermath.

This was easily the most traumatizing moment in my soccer career. Seeing my foot out of place. The ball had just gone out and the whistle was blown. The referee came to sit next to me and talk me out of what just happened. There was no way I was okay after that just happened.

My vision blurred from all the tears. My heart felt like it was in my throat and everything began to shake more and more. The pain was harsh, I began to have a panic attack. The next thing I knew, my father was running to help me up and my coach was running from the bench. My teammates were circling up and talking about what the next play had to be. This is what teams do. They circle up when something is going to take a long time, and when someone’s injured. I just didn’t envision an informal timeout to form because of me.

A young woman with cherry red hair drove up to the bench in a golf cart within seconds carrying bags of ice. She introduced herself as Beth and started to look at my ankle which within just a couple minutes was two times its regular size. She comforted me, telling me that injuries happen all the time and I was going to get through this. At that moment it really didn’t feel like it. I was shaking uncontrollably, and couldn’t hold myself together. She was patient with me and as she listened, and was able moving my foot fine — as if nothing happened. But when I tried to move it on my own, it was the worst feeling. A stinging pain from all sides — like pins all over my ankle — made me hold my breath.

We applied ice frequently, and I begged my father to let me stay until the end of the game even though it was freezing outside. The longer I stayed, the angrier I got. I wished that I could’ve been out there with my team to help them instead of watching them.

The game ended 4-0, and everyone came off the field a wreck. Many kept their heads up, but others were not to be bothered.

I stayed put until Beth was back, and she took me to the car. I was not ready for a four-hour ride home on a Sunday night. But, my father told me to relax and just listen to music or keep myself busy. As I began to chat with my friends and get my mind off the current situation, the drive home was not as bad as I expected.

The next couple of days I didn’t go to school and went to doctor appointments: One to get x-rays, and another to talk about the next steps. My father and I went in thinking it would be a severe sprain and I’d have a cast or boot for a month or so until I could get back on my feet.

My doctor entered the room and was looking at my x-rays. He looked up at me as if not wanting to tell me what was next. I had fractured the outermost bone in my ankle also known as the fibula. The ligaments in between the two bones in my ankle had been damaged as well. The next words that came out of his mouth were words I wanted to kill; I needed surgery, and that was the only way to get this fixed.

I had my first surgery on Oct. 19. I shook up a roaring storm before the surgery, nervous to be put under by the anesthesiologist, but the operation happened as if it were under my nose. Smooth and quick. The aftermath was painless as well. I went home and watched Riverdale for hours before passing out into the deepest, nicest sleep.

I woke to many medications that minimized and numbed my pain.

Now, I am back at school on a knee scooter that I ride all over and am still making peace with. I have six weeks before I will start to walk again. I plan on going through a lot of physical therapy and dream to be back on the soccer field by the spring season at Pioneer High School. I will gradually work up the strength in my right leg with time and patience. Slowly, the day will come when I can get back on the field with the same hunger I had a month ago.

 

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