Since their foundation, the Houston Dash have experienced their fair share of torn ACLs. Just twenty-three minutes into the first game in franchise history, Brittany Bock had to be removed with what would prove to be a torn ACL. In 2015, it was Stephanie Ochs’ turn just three games into the season. In 2017, it was Kealia Ohai, and then in 2018, Kristie Mewis.
Recovery from a torn ACL can take upwards of a year. In the case of Mewis, the injury occurred on May 27, 2018. She made her initial return to action on April 20, 2019 as a substitute before making her first start earlier this month against the Utah Royals.
Unfortunately for the Dash, just as Mewis was preparing for her triumphant return to the starting lineup, forward Veronica Latsko became the latest member of the team to tear an ACL during training.
“It was so hard to see her go down at practice, but she’s one of the strongest, best people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Mewis told reporters about Latsko’s injury. “Her positivity; just her smile lights up the entire room.
“I think it is obviously going to be a really long road for her, but I’m going to be there as much as I can for her. I’ve obviously just gone through the whole thing.”
Mewis knows firsthand the challenges of recovering from an ACL, and not just the physical ones. Players often speak of the frustration of being on the sideline for an extended period, watching the team but not necessarily feeling a part of it.
Since the injury, Mewis has gone through that struggle. “The biggest challenge was just not being out there with the team. I’d go to as many practices as I could, but it would get harder and harder to watch them. And I think just how long it is. I guess I didn’t really realize how long it takes you to really get back and feel good.”
Torn ACLs have become so common in women’s soccer that fortunately there is always a good support network of those that have been through the process. In Mewis’ case, Ohai was a great source of support as were other players on the team that have experienced the injury previously.
Friends and family were also critical throughout, including Mewis’ sister, Sam, and Dash teammate Rachel Daly.
“You try to get through it on your own but you really do need people around you who love you and you just need their support and their love and their help,” Mewis said. “So I needed so many people and they helped me through it. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Dash head coach James Clarkson sees Mewis now being in a position to provide similar support and inspiration to Latsko. “I think, it shows that with hard work and taking care of your rehab, you can get back as quickly as possible and continue to have a great career,” Clarkson said.
With the recovery experience fresh in her mind along with the inevitable mental ups and downs, Mewis is fully cognizant of the role she can play not just helping Latsko but in helping the team better understand the challenges the forward will be going through.
“I think what is important is just for all of us to be behind her for everything,” Mewis said. “Sometimes maybe if she’s smiling, she’s not actually smiling on the inside. So I think we just need to make sure that we are behind her 100 percent every single day until she’s back.”
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