INJURY is every sportsperson’s nightmare.
Former Cork City player Michelle O’Driscoll was living the dream of playing football in the States until an ACL injury last month put a halt to her career.
O‘Driscoll is devastated to be without football, and so far away from home, but the determined youngster has what it takes to come back stronger than ever.
“I could definitely see how this could be an isolating time for anyone, but I have chosen to not let it get me down and meet all the challenges head-on,” said O’Driscoll.
The 20-year-old from Shandon Street who started her footballing career at Wilton United moved to the States in 2018 where she enjoyed two seasons playing in Florida.
Recently she made the big transition from beach life to the desert where she joined up with Texas side University of El Paso but all that changed in her very first game.
“Unfortunately, I got injured in our first conference game against Louisiana Tech. I started well and contributed positively to the team but around 10 minutes in, I jumped up to avoid a player and I landed terribly on my right knee.
I knew straight away I was going to be in trouble because it hurt immediately.
“The doctor notified my trainer first and then she called me immediately to say that it was the worst scenario, I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament.
“She then went on to tell me that I also tore my meniscus which is the cartilage in my knee and to add to the list I also sprained my medial collateral ligament.
“After hanging up the phone from the trainer, I Facetimed my parents straight away as they were awaiting a call from me about it. I didn’t have to say anything and my mom knew from the look in my face that it was bad news.
“They were as devastated if not more than me which was so disappointing.
“After reality settled in for them both, their mindset shifted to that of encouragement and really helped me to begin to get past it.
“They’ve always told me to 'control the controllables' and that I had all the skills both mentally and physically to deal with the setback.
”The surgery was a great success and Dr. Urrea was able to repair my meniscus instead of removing it and also said he got a 'fantastic strong graft' from my hamstring to act as my new ACL.
“I was glad there were no complications and that I could now start the countdown to getting back.
“Because I tore my meniscus on top of everything else, I have to be non-weight bearing for six weeks so that it can heal correctly so that’s definitely more of an inconvenience.
“The doctor also added that this is a nine-month plus injury so I need to prepare physically and more importantly mentally for the road ahead.”
For any parent, it’s difficult to see your child suffer, but in these testing times, and not be able to be there for your daughter must be horrendous for Michelle’s parents Liz and Niall.
“Unfortunately, due to Covid, it wasn’t possible for my parents to travel as lockdown would have inhibited their travel plans.
“Knowing my mom wasn’t going to be here physically was disappointing but both her and my dad made up for it by being there virtually whenever I needed them.
“I am hopeful to see my family in 2021 provided Covid restrictions ease off a little but until then I plan to keep my head down and focus on my rehab and recovery.”
Focusing on the positive side, Michelle was enjoying sport and life before the injury
“Prior to my injury, I was performing better in training and in games which granted me more minutes which I was grateful for.
I was coming close to the perfect game as my goal-scoring chances in games were improving and my consistency was becoming a strength.
“I was proud of how I was playing and I was absolutely delighted when I heard I was starting the first conference game against LA Tech.
“It then went downhill from there, but I have every intention of picking up where I left off when I do return to play. Although my role has changed within the team the overall goal has not. I will still attend training and be tuned in as if I’m playing to keep my mind sharp and of course push the girls to be better than they were.
“All NCAA athletes will get a 'Covid year' meaning they will gain an extra year of eligibility to play because of all the disruptions caused.
“Prior to my injury that would mean I could end up playing five years in total and could also earn a master’s degree as I had an extra year to do so.
“Now my academic future gains another year as I will be forced to medically red-shirt the fall of 2021 as I won’t be fit until early 2022. This medical redshirt means I have yet another year of eligibility to play if I would like to.
“This option makes taking a sixth year in college a possibility to further my academic accomplishments if that is something I want.
“Coming to the States has been life-changing for me.
“Starting my college career back in 2018 in Daytona State College in Florida, I couldn’t have imagined all the joy I’ve had along the way.
“I have met so many amazing people who have contribute so positively towards my life and I continue to be grateful for all the opportunities that have come, and more importantly will come my way.
“As I face this setback, my goals of coming back stronger both in my mind and as a player are my number one priority.
“I encourage everyone to stick with their goals even when things seem to be going wrong because it will make the success all the sweeter when that time comes around.”