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Sarah Brown gets back on the field

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Sarah Brown gets back on the field

Sarah Brown trots up the field in this photo from the Spring, 2012, Statesboro soccer season. Brown suffered a knee injury during the preseason of the 2012 softball season. After hundreds of hours of rehab, Brown has a clean bill of health and is ready to return to the soccer field with the Blue Devils.

    For three years, Statesboro’s Sarah Brown patrolled the softball diamond and soccer field, starring for the Lady Blue Devils and becoming a leader among to teammates.
    Things seemed to be in place for Brown to shine one more time in her senior season before everything changed in an instant.
    Playing in a softball game for her travel team just weeks before the Statesboro High softball season began, Brown gave chase on a pop-up and collided with her centerfielder.
    “I knew right away that I had hurt my knee pretty bad,” said Brown. “I went to the urgent care center in Savannah and they said that I had sprained my MCL.”
    In reality, things were far worse.
    A follow-up visit to a doctor in Statesboro and an MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn meniscus. Also on the diagnosis — an end to a senior softball season that never had a chance to get started.
    “I was pretty upset,” said Brown. “I love playing softball, and it was just so disappointing to know that I was going to miss out on my senior season.”
    Doing what she could to stay close to her team, Brown continued to attend every practice and game. More importantly, she was also a devoted attendee to every rehab and therapy session that lined her road to recovery.
    Rebounding from a serious knee injury can be particularly frustrating for athletes. For those who are used to working hard and getting results, the minimal gains that are made with each passing week of therapy are often just as frustrating as being out of the lineup.
    Brown’s case was no exception to the rule, but she also never faltered as she was determined to get back in time to resume her role as a defender on the soccer team.
    “I just worked hard at getting healthy every day,” said Brown. “I wanted to know when the earliest date that I could get back on the field was and I just concentrated on making that goal.”
    After a few months, Brown was able to move out of the doctor’s office and back outside. While sprints and bleachers are usually a chore for athletes, Brown seemed all too delighted for the opportunity to put in the hard work.
    “She was preparing for soccer season before I was,” said SHS coach Brian Thomas. “Sarah has been working hard with (athletic trainer) Tim Ussery. It seemed like every time I was out on the field planning and organizing things, she’d be running around the track or going up and down the bleachers.”
    After enduring the physical pain of the initial injury, the emotional pain of watching her softball team carry on without her, and the constant struggle to regain strength and mobility, Brown’s hard work has paid off. Statesboro began official soccer practices last week and Brown was cleared to take part in all activities.
    “It’s a shame that she had to go through all of that,” said Thomas, “But it just shows the type of person she is. She never got down on herself. To bounce right back from such a bad injury is a great show of character that some of our younger girls can look up to.”
    One final hurdle that most athletes coming off of an ACL tear must overcome is the uncertainty that they are totally healthy. Even after being cleared to resume playing, there can be a lingering fear of a repeated injury that can slow some people down.
    With a clean bill of health and hundreds of hours of rehab now in the rearview mirror, the only thing on Brown’s mind is how to help the Devils improve on the soccer field this season.
    “I feel like I’m better than 100 percent,” said Brown. “As soon as I got back on the field and went through some drills, everything felt right.”
    Brown looks forward to playing in every soccer game this spring and will also return to the softball diamond in the summer before hopefully finding a college that will allow her to continue her athletic career.
    A freak accident put Brown on the shelf for almost six months, but she is certain that she’s now just as healthy as ever and that nothing about her abilities in soccer or softball has changed.
    Well — perhaps just one.
    “I’m definitely going to be a little bit louder,” said Brown. “Next time, I’m going to know where my centerfielder is and I’m going to let everyone know that I’ve got it.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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