Adam Grinwis


I’ve been playing soccer religiously since I was a kid. Through almost 20 years playing the sport, I never had a serious injury. I never had to miss time, undergo a surgery, or be out of the goal for an extended period of time. I’ve always dreamed of playing in MLS, North America’s top professional soccer league. Following four years of college soccer at the University of Michigan, I was hoping to continue my soccer career at the professional level. My MLS dreams weren’t materializing so I shipped out to Rochester, NY to prove myself in the United Soccer League, the second division. During the first week of training, I made a save that caused serious pain in my wrist. As a rookie looking to assert myself, I elected to keep playing and do my best to ignore the pain. A surgery to repair a fractured scaphoid would come at the end of the season. The scaphoid is a small bone in the wrist that has limited blood supply, so it is a slow healing process. A 4-month hiatus from goalkeeping ensued. It was a painful and difficult rehab process but I assured myself I would do everything possible to prepare myself for my second season in Rochester. I was cleared to be back in goal the day before preseason began. 5 weeks later, we had our first game. I played well and felt confident my wrist issue was completely behind me. The following week I had a routine check up with my wrist surgeon. Upon examining the x rays, the surgeon concluded the surgery hadn’t taken. The same bone in my wrist had re-fractured. The painful procedure and all of that time out of the goal suddenly felt like a complete waste when I was told another surgery was inevitable. Still wanting so badly to assert myself, I attempted to postpone the surgery and play through the pain again. Within months the pain was too severe and the wrist surgeon told me I needed to repair the bone if I ever wanted to play professional soccer again. The second surgery was much more invasive. A piece of bone from my femur, at the top of my kneecap, would be removed and placed into my wrist to replace the dead portion of the scaphoid bone in my wrist. They would have to open up my leg as well as my wrist. In this time I was out of contract and unable to train for 3 months. I contemplated if all of the rehab and effort to prove myself was really worth it. Honestly, I felt lost and alone. Thanks to the motivation and encouragement of my family and close friends, I pried my way out of that dark place and worked my way back into training. By the grace of God, I was offered a new position on a 2nd division team in St. Louis. Another opportunity. In a completely new place of life, I was finally playing pain free. I also had two massive scars on my body to show for it. I was able to play an entire season with no wrist issues. Plus, to come full circle, after one season in St Louis I finally got the opportunity in MLS I had been working to achieve. In many ways I feel this is just the beginning to my story and the scars I have are just a reminder of how close I was to calling it quits. They are a story of not only one of the lowest points of my life, but also one of the most defining points of my life. I learned that soccer is what I do, not who I am. I had become obsessed with achieving my goals that I lost sight of who I was as an individual. Following that second surgery I learned so much about myself, I grew closer to my family, I grew stronger in my faith, and I made deeper friendships. I also gained a larger admiration for my sport and how much hard work you need to put into it. Lastly, it gave me a deeper appreciation for every time I step into the goal. Now every day when I put my gloves on I see the thick scar on my wrist and am reminded to never to take a day in there for granted. I am so thankful for every day I get to play the sport I love.

Bailey Cartwright