For the last month I have been continuing to workout, go to physical therapy, and started to integrate more of the team workouts that my teammates have been going to. The results are starting really pay off. I’m feeling more confident in my body and trusting it more. We are truly down the final stretch.
I did receive my knee brace finally and as you can see it’s the American flag. This is not by accident. For those that have seen me play, I have developed a bit of an alter ego on the field of Captain America. It all started one day at practice when my teammate Britta had on Batman gloves. I told her I love Batman but Captain America is definitely right there for me too. When my football bag was stolen out of my car a few weeks later, she surprised me with Captain America gloves. She has no idea what she started.
Now everyone gets me Captain America stuff. I have blankets, shirts, hats, water bottles, and it just keeps coming! I’m taking that to mean that it’s sticking. And the more I had thought about it, the more I realized it truly does fit me.
I love history and the backdrop of the story is WWII which is my favorite time period. His story is the underdog turning into a beast. I have felt much the same way as people seem to take my nice personality as an invite to underestimate until they realize that was not a good idea.
I also have a strong patriotic feeling due to the history of my family. I’m related to George Washington, Robert E Lee married into the Custis family, and Arlington Cemetery used to be Custis family land. In my family history there are themes of politicians, military people, and athletes. There was also a Custis who was a Tuskegee Airman and one who was the first African-American professional quarterback. No pressure on me or anything.
So when they gave me the pamphlet at the doctor’s office with the options and I saw the option for the flag one, I knew I needed to have it. If I’m going to wear this thing for a year, it might as well fit who I am.
That being said, I am still getting to know it. There are 6 straps on the thing. It’s a Donjoy but with an extra strap to help with my PCL. That means there are lot of options to get it to fit wrong. I had a lady who came to show me how to do it which was helpful with the basics but I’m still experimenting on where I like each strap and how to get it consistently on the same way.
This can be irritating at times. As a player, I’ve played so long that I am routine person. I like to get to games early, take my time, and chill. I hate feeling rushed and equipment issues tend to really irritate me. I work on my equipment to get it just right so that when I put it on it’s like a part of me. Then I can just focus on playing.
When I do get it on right, it does help. I feel confident in cutting. I can do cone drills and drops no problem. It’s more physiological than anything else. It helps me trust in my leg more. I think once I practice with it enough it’s going to be really helpful.
Another thing I have been having to overcome, is getting irritated with people when they ask me if I’m OK everything we do or they say to be careful, or they say they were sorry when they bump into me. It’s a tough thing because when you are an athlete coming back from an injury like this, you know that people love you and they are just being kind.
But when you get to the point that you are cleared by the doctors, you are no longer fragile and need to know exactly where you are at. My personality on the field can be intense, focused, and aggressive. I don’t back down from anything. It’s who I am. I always go 120. I’m the person the coaches tell everyone to go 50 percent and then tell me to go 13 percent. I have 2 speeds, on and off.
Because of this, I have to relearn that. When people say those things it has the opposite effect. I want the contact. I want to push so I know exactly where I’m at, so I know what to work on to get to where I need to go. Many players struggle with fear with injuries like this. I have to face any remaining doubt in myself and rebuild that confidence. That’s the only way I will be able to fully comeback.
Since the last time I wrote, I went to Richmond, California twice for work. It’s a fun part of my job. I love to travel. It’s also kind of refreshing to work out in different environments. While down there, I took advantage of the hotel gym but I also happened to be staying at the exact hotel that I used to stay at with my team when I played with Portland. There used to be a team called the Bay Area Bandits that we would play in Richmond at Contra Costa College and it was funny to stay at the exact hotel and know the area already.
On my lunch break I drove to the college and found the field. It had a no trespassing sign so I didn’t go on it. I wasn’t about to get arrested in football cleats. However, I found a nice patch of grass on a practice soccer field and worked out. It felt so nice to feel sun. Living in the northwest, you almost forget you don’t get it much so when you are in a place that does, it’s crazy because you just want to get as much as you can of it.
Last Thursday, at an informal team workout, there were 8 of us so we played 2 hand touch which was fun. Once I got my brace situated which took a minute, I started feeling it. I scored 2 touchdowns and didn’t drop 1 ball. Even though it was backyard type stuff, it felt good. My teammate said she saw the spark in me that I usually had before the injury. That’s what I need to continue to get back to.
Today I went to physical therapy and it was my last appointment. I have now been discharged. I’ve been going for several months and the progress has been amazing. Even the last 2 months have been dramatic. 2 months ago I couldn’t stand on my left leg and sit down on a chair and back up for more than 1 rep. Today I did 14.
We also did a jumping test. Basically, she takes a long piece of tape and puts it on the floor. I stand at one end and jump as far as I can but have to stick the landing for it to count. We do it on the right leg and then the left and compare to see how close my left leg is to my right. There are couple other variations to the jumps but 2 months ago my left leg was around 55 percent of my right leg. Now it’s around 85 percent.
Just those 2 exercises alone prove my progress. I have exactly 1 month until I leave for Orlando. My plan is to wear my helmet to team workouts the next week and then my shoulder pads the following week to get used to them again. Then I’ll take a week off before I fly to Orlando.
I am not sure what Orlando is going to bring. All I know is that no matter what happens I will be able to look myself in the mirror knowing that I gave it everything I had to make this turn around for it. Will I make the team? I hope so.
But no one will be able to question my heart. I feel ridiculously hungry. This injury gave me my hunger back.