BLACKSBURG – During the 2019 Virginia Tech Women’s Soccer season, three of its underclassmen suffered season-ending ACL injuries – each about a month apart. All three, Holly Rose Weber, Emily Gray and Sydney Ash, are eyeing a 2020 return to the field as they continue to rehab their injuries during the current climate.
With today’s release, each has now been featured in a Q&A series answering questions about how it happened, how they are getting through the recovery process and how the current situation could be a blessing in disguise for them. Please enjoy the final one with Sydney Ash, while there is a link at the bottom of the story to view the previous ones on Weber and Gray.
The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team had been winless in five matches since it raced out to a 9-0 start to open the season. The Hokies had faced four straight top 10 opponents and NC State and went 0-3-2 in the stretch.
However, during Homecoming weekend, the Hokies secured a 1-0 win over Wake Forest on Friday night October 18 on a Grace Sklopan second-half tally – which was part of a doubleheader with the men’s team, while the following day the Tech football team beat North Carolina in a six-OT contest. With the victory, the Hokies reached the 10-win plateau for the second straight year and the 12th time in program history and it also moved them into seventh in the league standings.
Unfortunately, for Tech freshman Sydney Ash, who did not play against the Demon Deacons, the following Monday morning’s training would be her last time on the field in 2019.
Q: Can you recall how your injury happened?
SA: “It happened on October 21 at morning practice. We were doing a drill and I was going to pressure the ball – I was on defense – and I stepped down on the field and my body kept going forward, but my knee and my leg went backwards. So, I hyperextended my left knee all the way back. I just felt a pop and fell to the ground and I just couldn’t get back up.
“This was crazy because I’ve never had any type of injury before. I’ve never even twisted an ankle and the second it happened, I just knew it was my ACL and I’ve never done anything to my knees. I don’t know if it was out loud or just in my head, but I heard this huge pop and I felt like I was fine and I knew I hadn’t broken anything, but something was definitely wrong with me.”
Q: What was it like, seeing your teammates out there and you not being able to play?
SA: “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I’ve never been in a situation like this. I’m so used to doing everything, maybe missing a game or practice due to a sickness, but having an injury that you know you’re out for so many months, and watching all your teammates do what you love and what you came her to do, it’s really hard. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay motivated in rehab when you know that you’re like five months away. That’s probably the hardest part, knowing that it seems like you’re still forever away from playing and you’re doing so much to get back.”
Q: You have current teammates going through this process right now and former teammates that did a year ago, how did they help you through this time?
SA: “Honestly, all those teammates have been the saving grace through this whole thing, because they have gone through the exact same thing, especially with Holly and Emily, going through it just a month or two before me would give me hope. Just seeing what they were able to do at different stages and seeing how well they were getting through it just helped me knowing that I would eventually be there.
“But then I look further down the road at Lilly (Weber) or Nicole (Kozlova) and see that their out there killing it on the field looking so strong and I believe I will eventually see myself there too, I just use their checkpoints to push myself. Emily and Holly, having them at the exact same time, doing exactly what I am doing helps a lot. I can talk to them about what I’m going through, or what I’m struggling with because they know exactly what’s going on. And then during rehab, if I’m having a bad day, or one of them is, we just help each other push through and that means a lot.”
Q: All three of you are all at different stages of the recovery process, where are you currently?
SA: “I’m about six months out now after surgery. About two months ago, I started running and slowly building up my speed and distance. I’m currently working on jumping, but nothing single leg – I can do broad jumps, squat jumps. Then that will transition into cutting and that’s the biggest step to getting back. Obviously, Holly and Emily are further along than me.”
Q: How are you doing with recovery during these current times, not at Tech?
SA: “It is definitely harder right now, because at Tech, we are so lucky to have Julie. We get to see her for three hours every single day, but here, it’s definitely harder especially with everything being closed. I actually got lucky because my PT here is letting me coming in once a week to see here, so that’s huge, and she’ll also see me through video calls. Julie will also meet with us once a week just to see how we’re doing and will send us weekly rehab that we need to be doing. It’s really different though having the Tech rehab place with all the machines that we could possibly need to trying to do it in your own basement.”
Q: How is school going for you during this process?
SA: “That’s been a bit difficult to. I like to go in to classes, be there and see the teacher and have a specific time to do everything. So, with having everything online, and having due dates set further out is a little bit harder. And taking online tests is not my favorite.”
Q: With the current situations, by the time you get back to school, everyone will be around the same place – not having played competitive soccer for a couple of months. Is that encouraging to know?
SA: “I’ve got to start cutting and getting that down and then will start doing non-contact drills after I pass what’s called functional testing, which sees if I’m ready to get back in. If that goes well, I’ll transition in to going through the motions of soccer, I can dribble, pass, shoot, but I can’t have contact, like tackling – and that would be when I’m fully cleared which is in late July.
“Julie and I have talked about things and have discussed that this is the best situation for me – not exactly what is happening – but that I have more time to rehab, because I wasn’t going to be able to do any of the stuff in the spring season at all. So, having this time to really focus on what I’m doing and in my comeback. It makes it a lot easier to transition into the fall. I can slow down and focus on what’s really important.”
Previous ACL injury Q&A’s