written by: Alex Tostado
Torn but not down.
Most people may cringe at the thought of tearing an ACL; for junior forward soccer player, Sydney Smith, this thought became a reality. Twice.
Smith first tore her ACL in her left knee before her senior year of high school. She then re-tore it after the 2012 season.
The Conyers native knew it had tore a second time even though the training staff had told her it had not torn.
“I went down saying I tore my ACL but everybody said I didn’t,” Smith said. “All of the trainers looked at me and said my ACL was fine and intact; even the doctor said that when he looked at me.”
After receiving an MRI, doctors learned that her ACL was not only torn, but had dissolved.
When Smith tore her ACL in high school, the doctors used tendons from a cadaver to replace in her knee. Her body attacked the foreign tissue causing her knee to give out once more.
The doctors then took the patella tendon in Smith’s left knee to repair the torn ACL.
As a result, Smith came out of surgery having to heal her ACL and patella tendon. Smith received surgery the very next day in Columbus, Ga.
“I did rehab every day,” Smith said. “Coming back I had a lot of tendinitis problems but I just worked my best to push through it and be able to get stronger and run on it and get faster.”
After all of the physical and emotional exhaustion, Smith still did not look for excuses and it did not go unnoticed by her coaches and teammates.
“Sydney is a hard working kid and a positive kid,” VSU head soccer coach Mel Heinz said. “She has to be fair to herself. I think she is expecting instant ‘back to Sydney soccer.’ For her, she has keep it honest; she has to realize she just got (cleared to play) and her hard work will get her caught up.”
Smith’s roommate, junior midfielder Hannah Mulkey, has been front row to see her teammate make a comeback to the field.
“It encouraged me to see that she wasn’t discouraged and sad,” Mulkey said. “I knew that she could come back and be a great player.”
Mulkey is rehabbing from the same injury and has looked to Smith as inspiration.
“(Smith) was very supportive,” Mulkey said. “She knew how I felt but she wasn’t overbearing and writing it off as, ‘Oh, I’ve already had two and it’s no big thing.’ She was very sympathetic.”
Smith told her parents the news of a second tear and they were supportive the whole way.�
“My mom was with me when we went to the doctor and got the MRI results,” Smith said. “She was just as upset as I was. We were both bawling.”
The Lady Blazer soccer team is like a family and when one person gets hurt, they rally around each other to lift that person back up.
“It wasn’t hard for me to encourage her because I could see how hard she was working,” Mulkey said.
Smith also had surgery in the summer of 2012 on her shin for Compartment Syndrome, which is genetic, which made Smith’s compartment fascia too tight for her muscle. Because of this, Smith had days where she wouldn’t be able to run more than 10 minutes at a time and would have to “crawl off the field because it hurt so bad.”
Smith has a passion for the game that not many people possess. The Biology major has been playing soccer since she was 7 years old and cannot imagine being a “normal college student.” Smith wants to be an orthodontist after she graduates but she still has a love for the game.�
So far this season, Smith has played 66 minutes and recorded one assist.�
“I think she is progressing the way she needs to progress,” Coach Heinz said. “It’s exciting and that’s why we are dressing her at times and that’s why she is getting a little bit of time in.”