My name is Taylor Pooley and I am a senior defender on Ball State University’s Women’s Soccer Team. On November 4, 2019 we made it to the MAC Championship. For the smaller conferences, win to get an automatic bid to the NCAA or lose and the season is over. With seven minutes left in what would shape up to be my last ever collegiate game, I went in for a tackle. I got the ball, the opposition player got me. Our AT came on the field to do an initial eval where I received a preliminary diagnosis of an ACL tear. I had teammates tear ACLs during my career and I knew that they were able to walk off the field. I told my AT that I wanted to leave the field on my own terms. When I went to take a step, I crumbled and ultimately had to be carried off. The next day I went in for an X-ray and my inability to weight bear was now explained. In actuality, I did not tear anything, rather I had a tibia plateau fracture. However, mine was bad enough that it would not heal on its own and surgery was set for November 12, 2019. Surgery had always been a major fear of mine, so the anticipation leading up to the surgery itself was already scary for me. Surgery went well, and I came out with eight screws, a plate, and a repair to my cartilage surface.
This injury was the toughest thing I ever had to deal with mentally and the most painful thing I ever experienced physically. For all the athletes out there who have graduated, you know the painful transition into a life post athletics. I deeply identified as an athlete and prior to the injury, I knew it was going to be tough psychologically to step away from the game. I went from knowing for the first time I was going to be able to work out on my own terms, go out with my friends, and live a normal college student life to not being able to walk or drive for two months and working on rehab. I went from the idea of total freedom to total dependency on others. I had been injured before, but this time was different. Soccer was over, I did not have that driving force to rehab as fast as possible to get back on the field. I had to find my why. On November 4, 2019 I thought I was walking away from the game, but the game wasn’t done with me yet, it had something else to teach me and test me with. This injury was my greatest trial mentally and physically, but it taught me so much. The love and support I received from my family and friends kept me going day in and day out. To all the people who impacted my recovery journey and helped me feel the lows and celebrate the highs, I am eternally grateful. I feel like nothing can phase me anymore, that I can take on anything put in my path. My greatest trial became my biggest blessing.