I’m giving out my own award.
After playing in pain for two years on an ACL so damaged it was holding on by a thread, LeP underwent a second reconstruction on the same knee. The prognosis for coming back from a second ACL surgery with additional cartilage complications on top of it was not good. Some said her career was over. A few experts said she had almost no chance of returning to the elite level of soccer. Even her own trainer had his doubts. She ignored all of those predictions and tried anyway. After a solid year of grueling rehab, just when she thought she was done, a serious setback was thrown in her path. Her knee wasn’t ready yet to withstand the rigors of soccer. Another 6 long months of rehab were added on. In all she would spend one and a half years fighting to come back.
On June 4th, a total of 537 days since she last played in a competitive match, LeP stepped into her very first NWSL game. Not only was she fit and healthy but even faster than she had been before. The odds she overcame to make that happen is a near miracle on grass. Since that first game she has continued to get stronger while playing every position on defense and at DM as well. She still has a ways to go to be back to full form but in only 10 weeks she has made remarkable strides, played in full games, withstood some rough play and made solid contributions. She has soldiered on quietly without complaint or excuses. She doesn’t get near enough recognition for what she has overcome.
The NWSL doesn’t think a Comeback Player Of The Year Award is worth giving out. I disagree. So I’m awarding it myself. Congrats LeP, the trophy is yours.
(photo credit W. Thorne)