BY ALY KOHANOWSKI | Ball State Soccer | Ball State Sports Link
To my career ending injury:
If you had told me I said this a year ago, I would have never imagined those words would have come out of my mouth.
Any college athlete will tell you one of the hardest things to do is to say goodbye to the sport they love.
For me, hanging up my cleats came a little sooner than anticipated. Having three reconstructive knee surgeries, the choice was made for me. My soccer career was done and there was nothing I could do about it.
The first time I tore my ACL was the summer going into my junior year. I have never felt more confident, more fit or more determined during this time.
When I found out I had to have knee surgery, I was devastated, yet the determination I felt that summer was still there. I was going to do everything I could to get back on the field.
I rehabbed for 10 months straight only to then find out my knee had not been healing correctly the whole time. This called for my second knee surgery.
Going into this, I had no idea what to expect. A minor surgery ended up being major, and I woke up after a four-hour surgery to the anesthesia wearing off and my surgeon telling me my ACL was completely removed and reconstructed…again.
The first thing that came to my mind was I would be missing my entire senior year season. That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to accept.
After six more months went by, I still was struggling with normal day-to-day simple activities such as walking to class and going up and down stairs. This was preventing me from doing most of my rehab to strengthen my leg from my last two surgeries.
So, now I am sitting here writing this blog while recovering from my third surgery.
After my first two surgeries, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself. After having my third, I realized dwelling on the past wasn’t going to help me whatsoever, and certainly wasn’t going to get me back on the field.
I now had to find a way to carry my talents from the soccer field to somewhere else.
Although my will to play the game never died, I was not going to let these career-ending injuries define me as a person. Of course I would give anything to feel that unexplainable joy of scoring a goal and jumping into my teammates’ arms one last time, but I knew that was not in my future.
I can’t play soccer anymore. That is a realization it took me a very long time to get through my head.
But, when it finally did and I stopped feeling so sorry for myself, I realized this was a true blessing in disguise when Sports Link Director, Chris Taylor came to me and asked me to be a color analyst for my team, Ball State Women’s Soccer’s upcoming ESPN broadcasts.
My heart immediately filled with joy. Knowing I was able to be involved in something I am so passionate was something really special.
Don’t get me wrong — I was scared out of my mind as well. I never imagined in a million years that me — Aly Kohanowski — would be live holding an ESPN mic flag.
On the day of the game, a sense of excitement began to take over which helped get rid of my nerves.
“We are live in 30 seconds,” producer Nick Panozzo said into my headset.
And just like that, I was live on ESPN3.
There is no way to describe the feeling I got when hearing the ESPN music in my ears.
Being able to see the game I love through a new light was something really special for me. Sure, I wasn’t on the field with my teammates, but I knew soccer would always be a part of my life. This is now my new form of playing in a soccer game.
Life has a funny way of working itself out. When I first thought I lost my one true passion in life, I realized that was no longer who I was as a person.
Some of the hardest decisions in life are the best ones, and I am forever thankful for Ball State Sports Link for helping me realize that there are much bigger things in store for me.
I’ll be back in the broadcast booth for a Ball State Soccer match for at least one more time this Sunday against Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Hopefully there will be a match or more left to play after Sunday — both for the team and for me.