I tore my ACL as a college athlete

Senior Amanda Otto reflects on her recent injury in the midst of her final soccer season.



Amanda Otto, Writer

It was our opening conference match in the breezy, fall air of the Bay Area. We were tied at zeros with Menlo College and I had just gone in for a tackle. I lost my balance and fell. I felt the pop.

A Horrific End

The tears were streaming down my face. I was not in much physical pain, but sometimes, ignorance would truly be bliss. My teammates had surrounded me, shielding my face from the sun, stroking my arm and telling me to relax because it would all be okay. I knew they said that to calm both my fear and theirs, like some self-denial technique that assured us we were simply having a bad dream. But this was not a dream and there would be plenty of time to relax. My senior season had come to a horrific end.

The next few weeks brought waves of emotions that came crashing in and pummeled me to the bottom of the ocean. I can honestly say I have never cried this much in my life. I tried to buy into that cliché belief of finding “beauty in the ashes,” but felt unjustly crushed and sure as hell did not want people’s pity. For athletes, for me, the struggle is real because we are “me doers.” We take for granted the little, everyday victories until they are lost, and suddenly we sheepishly ask for assistance to tie a shoelace. It is humbling.

More than a field

The soccer field has been more than a place of blood, tears and sweat. It is where I have grown as a person and developed relationships that will last for the rest of my life. It is my happy place and comfort zone. It is my home and it was taken from me. My role on the team changed, and as team captain, it was a tough pill to swallow because I did not know how to lead from the sideline. I could no longer anchor our defense, have the most assists or score goals. I felt worthless, but was often reminded of the Apostle James’ words, “trials produce steadfastness.”

The Hardest Part

Games were and still are the hardest. I continue to do the coin toss before each match and even that has its challenges. I hobbled over to the midline at our first home game after the accident. The referee gave me this weird, indignant look.

“You’re the captain,” she drawled, with an emphasis on the “you” as if I did not belong there. “Yes, I am,” I replied and looked straight into her face. “Well, you don’t look ready to play,” she chuckled. That one cut deep. How do you respond to something like that? I have never prayed fire to reign down on someone, but for a moment I considered the possibility of brimstone or Rhonda Rousey. Either one was fine with me. I clenched my jaw, blinked away the tears, and shook her hand.

The Smaller Moments

Many people reached out to me, and at times, it was overwhelming. But it was in the smaller, insignificant moments that I began to see God’s blessings. I encountered people who came alongside me and held my head above the waves when I came close to sinking. I met other athletes who experienced career-ending injuries, a daughter who lost her father and a mother who had endured six miscarriages. I was so encouraged by each of those individuals and found some comfort in knowing I probably would not have heard their stories if I had not experienced this trial. Their faith was inspiring.


If we are honest with ourselves, suffering still sucks. However, suffering is not meaningless. It unites us when we are broken in spirit. More importantly, it forces us to cling to Jesus when all else has failed. Suffering is painful, but it is God’s tool of refinement so He might be glorified in all things. The pain of God’s glory is being honest about my feelings instead of being “okay.” The pain of God’s glory is choosing joy when I am tempted to be bitter. The pain of God’s glory is cheering my teammates on from the bench. The pain of God’s glory is letting go of what I have held so tight and whispering those words into the silence. Not my will, but Yours be done.

0 0 votes
Article Rating