Nick Cullen


My name is Nick Cullen. I am going to be a senior on the Notre Dame men's soccer team. Committing to play for Notre Dame was always my dream. When I received my offer, I accepted without hesitation and could not wait to get started. I redshirted during the fall of my freshman year, and was looking forward to being able to contribute in the spring. I had developed a nagging injury in my right groin area throughout the fall, but I did not think much of it at the time. The various treatment options that I tried did not help much, and when I went home to Colorado for Christmas time, I got X-rays and an MRI arthrogram. The results came back a lot worse than expected, and it was decided that I needed surgery for a right hip labrum tear and bone impingement. I had the surgery done a couple weeks after returning to campus, and the six month recovery time meant that the entire spring season was over for me. The process was very tedious, but I received clearance to play again in July of 2017. At this time, I still an underclassman, and, having redshirted the first year, was not too discouraged that I had missed out on much. I still knew that I had something to offer the team in the future. Fast forward to the spring of my sophomore year. I was playing the best I had in all of my career, and was looking to contribute as much as possible during the upcoming fall season. The first weekend in April 2018 we had a double-header. I was playing in the second game of the day when a slide tackle put an end to my season. The initial diagnosis came in as a fractured 2nd, 3rd, and 4th metatarsal around the midfoot area of my right foot. The rehab process was supposed to take about 3-4 months depending on my body’s healing. This news was terrible to hear, but I knew that if I recovered properly, I would still be back in time for the fall season. After undergoing the rehab process, I returned to playing right before preseason. I played for the first few weeks, but something did not feel right. It finally got to the point where I went back to the doctor for X-rays and another MRI. The news came back, and I was told there was damage to my Lisfranc ligament in my foot from the tackle, and surgery was necessary. I was removed from training, but did not have the operation until fall break in October 2018. The recovery time was said to be anywhere from around 6-8 months. This time around, rehab was very different. I now felt like I was missing out on so many opportunities after having played well in the spring but still never actually contributing in the regular season. I was frustrated with myself and almost everyone else around me. The biggest thing that I thought I had going for me all my life had been taken away for a very long time. I let myself have a negative outlook because it was the easy thing to do given the circumstances. Saying this, the people around me were constantly there to pick me up. I owe pretty much all of my recovery to them. I am currently 7 months in, and making significant progress. I plan to be cleared to practice in the next few weeks and make a full recovery for my senior season. This time, I am not taking anything for granted. It very well could be my last opportunity to compete with my teammates and best friends. The setbacks I have had caused me to realize how much more to life there is than just a simple sport. I have a greater appreciation of things because I know have an idea of how fast they can be taken away from me. Most of all, I realized how important the people in my life are. None of them are there by chance, and I cannot imagine how it would have turned out without them.

Bailey Cartwright