I had finally recovered both physically and mentally from a year long injury that I thought I would never overcome. I was healthy, excited, and ready to tackle all the new opportunities and challenges that Notre Dame would present – with the first challenge coming just two weeks into my first preseason.
My name is Sandra Yu, a former member of the Notre Dame women’s soccer team, and on August 17th2013 I tore my ACL. Initially, I was left feeling defeated but I quickly shifted my mindset and convinced myself that my injury occurred at the perfect time (as if such a thing exists). I told myself I have exactly 12 months to get back in shape and be ready for the 2014 season. As a result, I did just that. I put my head down and worked like hell to be strong and healthy. Before I knew it, August of 2014 arrived and I was cleared to play. I was excited, nervous, anxious, and happy to get back out on the field. Fast forward to the end of the 2014 season and you’ll see I didn’t play a single second of the season. I was so mentally defeated after this season that I strongly considered quitting. I questioned my worth. I thought I was undeserving of my scholarship because I was healthy and still not contributing on the field. I was ashamed and embarrassed because I truly believed I had let down so many people who had invested in me. I did not deserve what I was getting from Notre Dame because in my eyes I didn’t think I was giving anything back. That winter break, I went home honestly not knowing if I would come back. I continued to train hard, hoping that something would click one day. Day by day, I felt myself letting go and playing more free – I found myself actually enjoying rather than dreading being around a ball. I found myself loving soccer again. I came back that spring with a new attitude and found myself starting the spring games and from that point on I started every game I ever played at Notre Dame. They say a typical ACL recovery time is 6-12 month. I even errored on the side of caution, but it wasn’t until a full 18 months after my injury that I finally felt like I fully recovered. These extra six months of recovery represent what I failed to take care of during the first 12 and that was my mind. I failed to tackle the mental side of my rehab the same way I tackled the physical side. From this long recovery process, I learned two simple lessons: 1) never give up on what you want to achieve and 2) be patient (something I am still working on). So for me, my scar is a constant reminder that I am a fighter and will persevere even when it would be easier to give up. It’s a reminder of the power of the mind. It’s a reminder of all the support I received from the incredible people that surrounded me. It’s a reminder of all my teammates, friends, coaches, staff, trainers and family that stood by my side when all I wanted to do was quit. It’s a reminder of how blessed I was to stay one more year at a place I wish I never had to leave. It’s a reminder of what it took to get to where I am today and what it will take to get to where I want to be tomorrow. It’s a reminder to always bet on myself.