I’m not an athlete. Sure, I work out, used to run, was a cheerleader (I can’t even), bike, swim, give Jane Fonda a run for her leg warmers, but I don’t have that competitive thing, that inner drive that makes you want to desecrate an opponent, makes you block out the rest of the world and just go the fuck for it.
But my dauaghter Ally does. My daugher Ally is an athlete. A competitor. A “beast”, as one of her earliest coaches used to describe her.
She has been playing soccer since she was five, showing promise even then. She worked her way up from the town rec. league to the travel team, to the bottom of a prestigious club team, and to its highest peak–the elite team, making her high school varsity team her freshman year. Along the way, there were bumps, and brusises, but mostly of her ego, as she learned more and more about how to play the game of soccer. Her commitment has always been total, her spirit, always undaunted, her road rage, full on, watch out, taking names and kicking ass.
To play at this level you have to give up a lot. Parties, weekends away, vacation weeks off, sleepovers, sometimes even friends who just don’t get it. She did all that, sometimes with a grunt, but mostly with a smile. She loved the ball. She loved the field. She loved the game.
In the past two years, her skills, body, and psyche merged and she became a force, the kind of soccer player coaches always knew she could be, the kind of player Ally always wanted to be. And so it was, her senior year, that she was killing it, and it looked as though she would have one of those high school fantasy seasons, with lots of pats on the back and accolades.
Until Friday night, when at a big game played under the lights at B.U.’s Nickerson Field, when going in for her third goal of the game, she was tripped, and went down.
And stayed down.
And just like that, her season ended. Her high school season ended right there. On that field, with a big crowd chanting her name. “Ally, Ally, Ally.”
She has the injury every soccer player fears (and every parent has nightmares about), a torn ACL. This is the season-ending KIng of injuries, as it requires surgery and a 6-8 month recovery, depending on who you talk to. This is the bitch.
And that’s where we are, three consults in quick succession this week, with surgeons who will cut into her virgin knee and aim to make things right. We went from our biggest worry being how to get to playoffs to how to get through rehab.
But see, I’m the one who’s crying, not Ally. Because Ally is an athlete. She is not looking forward to surgery, but she is looking forward to coming back, stronger than ever. Because Ally is an athlete. And everything that means.