Three hundred fourteen days passed between San Diego Wave games featuring defender Abby Dahlkemper as she recovered from a grueling back injury during 2022 and 20223. In the process, she rediscovered her love of the game while finding new passions to invest in off the pitch.
“Time and perspective away from the game and focusing on recovery has made me really fall in love with the game again and made me miss it a lot when I didn’t have it,” Dahlkemper told The Equalizer. “The appreciation and the gratitude to be able to be healthy and play the game I love and just have fun and smile. That’s important and you’re gonna play your best soccer when you’re relaxed and having fun and that breeds confidence and your best game.”
The Equalizer chatted with Dahlkemper about her nonprofit work with dogs at The Animal Pad, and what she learned about herself through her rehab journey.
Dahlkemper was the Wave’s first player acquisition as the team prepared for its 2022 expansion season. Head coach Casey Stoney values defending, and Dahlkemper had long been one of the best center backs in the National Women’s Soccer League and for the United States women’s national team. Injuries, however, challenged her in 2022. She finally decided to have surgery near the end of the season.
“[It] was hard to be away for so long, but I think then you can focus on mentally getting better and a sense of just finding happiness off the field,” Dahlkemper said. “It helped me discover who [I am] outside of soccer and what I enjoy and I have a really good work-life balance now, which I’m appreciative of.”
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