Sidelined Story: A Tale About a Boy With a Bum Knee

“As the injury happened I wasn’t aware that anyone else had noticed I had fallen, so I was thinking I had to get off the field, get a sub and stretch it out. I thought it wasn’t an injury. Turns out I was in shock and not paying attention to where I was and everyone who was huddled around me.”

Tearing your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, has got to every athletes worst nightmare. The thought alone makes me cringe. The injury has a painfully long recovery time, lasting 6-9 months after surgery has finished. This includes the months of natural recovery to pass after the injury before the surgery is even plausible. Think of all that time spent, in these ever so blissful years as a student, and having nearly a quarter of your experience stuck without a working knee. Yes, as I’m sure you are imagining, the fun activities have become slightly limited. That means; no jumping on your new bed, no runs home from the Vil as you dodge rain drops, no running down to the class that slipped your mind, and no more sports!

About eight months ago, then second-year-student John Attenborough was playing a semi-final game for Valley United Soccer Club, when he heard that unforgettable “pop” come from his right knee. Johnny, a crucial member of the Acadia Men’s Soccer Team and also CIS Academic All-Canadian had his varsity sport career thrown off the rails after that unforgiving change of direction. The talented right back, who had just been through his break-through season, was the team’s anticipated starting defender for this year’s season. His injury was detrimental for the team, but even more so for him as a member of the team. Fortunately, John was able to take time out of his evening to share his experience after he was sidelined.

After getting all the bad jokes out of his system, he spoke on what he missed most about being on the field. “I miss being regularly active in a way that I enjoy,” he began, following with a slew of complaints about the difficulty of finding other enjoyable activities. He has recently discovered an interest in ping pong, which allows him to finally compete again. The absence of activity was not the only thing that John expressed about missing being on the team. “More than anything, I miss the general comradery of being on the team; day-in, day-out, practicing together and playing together. His chin was held lower when he reminisced on his last season with the Axemen. He is proud that he has continued to stay involved in the team, and chuckles at his dedicated attendance towards every Sunday fun-day. Johnny still goes to every game that he’s able to with a smile on his face, feeling just as part of the team as he did last year.

In attempts to find some more positives in the situation, we looked into the extra time that the lack of soccer gave him. In the intensive, two month season things tend to become very time constrained for all athletes. Although it wasn’t all positive when he answered if academics had gotten any easier with the free time. “No, definitely not” he sharply responded, “I found that soccer kept me regimented, which was good because it gave me certain allotted times where I had to study.” He was also surprised in the fact that he hadn’t seen many changes in his social life during these times either, despite his freedom from responsibility on weekends.

The tone was a tad more pleasant as I asked John how his recovery was going. I am pleased to report that it is going well, as he continues to meet the correct points that he should be in terms of his recovery. He has a set protocol in which he is trying to follow, one that will allow John to be back on the field for the Axemen’s 2016 season. “The first six weeks after surgery were the worst ever, but things have been getting exponentially better since,” John said with a joyful face.

In conclusion, I asked if he had any advice to offer other sidelined players to make the most out of their unfortunate situation. His best advice was to keep involved with your team, try and stay healthy as you’ll eventually want to go back. I asked him if he wished to go back right now. His reply? “You’re an asshole.”