High School: St. Mary’s, Class of 2014
Club Team: Pride United ’96
Webster’s Dictionary defines determination as a “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.” Synonyms include perseverance, persistence, doggedness, stubbornness, tenaciousness, and Alex Sjobakken. That’s right. Alex Sjobakken.
Alex, a soccer player for St. Mary’s High School, is about to enter her senior year where she will lead a very talented soccer team. However, getting to this point was not as easy as it seems. Unfortunately, Alex suffered an injury that many female soccer players dread - a torn ACL. But, this is where Alex reflects the word determination so perfectly.
After having surgery to repair her ACL in October of 2011, Alex made it her goal to be back playing by the 2012 spring season. She worked harder than ever with physical therapy and made it back on the field midway through the season. Upon completing her sophomore year, Alex knew she still was not where she wanted to be. That’s when she made her commitment to Max Performance and stepped her game up to a whole other level.
Alex started her post-ACL training program in the summer of 2012 and has not looked back since. Every day she got a little stronger. Every week, a little faster. Every month, a little more determined! By the time her junior season rolled around in 2013, Alex was just itching to get on the field and dominate her opponents. And dominate she did. Alex’s junior season was a breakout year where she recorded new career highs for goals and assists. She was also honored with awards such as 2nd Team All State, 1st Team All-League, All-Area Honorable Mention, and All-Colorado 3A Honorable Mention.
But that’s now in the past, and Alex is still showing her passion and enthusiasm for getting even better. Training with Max Performance this summer, Alex has hit new highs in her training program, culminating with the top spot on our girls’ deadlift leader board at 255 lbs. Remember boys, somewhere a girl is warming up with your max! There is no doubt Alex is one of our strongest athletes. And there is no doubt the positive effects passion, enthusiasm, and determination can have on an athlete who sets her mind on being the best.
In August of 2011, in a collision with a goalie during a club soccer game, I tore my ACL in my left leg. The injury resulted in reconstructive surgery in October 2011 and I was not able to compete in my club fall 2011 season. I rehabbed during the winter and was back partially playing in March 2012 with a knee brace.
I trained with Max Performance all summer of 2012 where I gained back all leg muscle I lost during the surgery plus more. The summer training helped me to have enough muscle strength and mental toughness to start playing without my knee brace during my fall 2012 club season. I continued my training with Max from November 2012 all throughout my high school season of 2013 which has helped me have one of my most successful seasons as I earned a 3A All-Conference recognition, 2nd Team All-State, Gazette All-Area Honorable Mention, and my career high of goals and assists in a season.
The most important aspect of my training is being mentally there to train every day, whether it’s on the field or in the gym. Having the attitude of wanting to work to get stronger and training hard every day is the only way you can get better.
My parents have been the biggest influence on my life. They were both standout athletes in high school, so they know the life of the athlete and push me to work my hardest and do my best in everything I do, on and off the field. They have always supported me in all I do and have been there to get me the best therapy and training to help me for soccer and I wouldn’t be where I am without their influence on my life.
Next season I hope to have my best season yet. I hope to improve on my stats for goals and assists, teamwork, and my leadership. I hope to have a standout season in hopes of getting a college scholarship to play soccer.
My favorite motivational quote is one Jenna showed me this summer. It is:
“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” -Henry Rollins
My injury was a huge setback for me, but now looking back, it has helped me become a more determined and hardworking athlete. This quote helps me realize I am now stronger, faster, and better than I have ever been and I cannot let any injury, no matter big or small, set me back.
Club: Colorado Classix 17′s
High School: Colorado Springs Christian School (CSCS), Class of 2014
There comes a point in every athlete’s career when there is a setback or bump in the road. Some don’t make the varsity roster, some don’t crack the starting lineup, and some are hit with an injury that puts them on the sideline. No matter what obstacle comes in the way, there are always those athletes that make the best of their situation. They put their nose to the grindstone and find a way to improve their game, keep a positive attitude, and find a way back to the court or field.
Kelsey Hunter is one of those athletes. Unfortunately, Kelsey suffered an ACL injury during her high school season, causing her to miss the State playoffs with her team, and later, delay her off-season training. As most athletes, coaches, and parents know, an injury to the knee (especially an ACL tear) can change a career. But, Kelsey was ready to attack this new challenge head on. Her positive mindset and her determination to come back stronger than she was before her injury really set Kelsey up for success. Not only did she dominate her physical therapy sessions, it was not long before she was back training with Max Performance and just itching to get back to the volleyball court. Kelsey has now fully returned to playing volleyball and is enjoying the club season. She was recently named a captain for her high school team and is hoping to lead Colorado Springs Christian back to the State tournament.
I tore my ACL two weeks before my team went to State. It was a devastating blow to me, because this would be the second year I had gone to State and not played. I also missed out on a lot of time I could have spent getting better, which hurt the most. It set me back both physically and emotionally.
I chose Spectrum because I knew the people there, and I knew that they would do everything they could to get me back on the court as soon as possible. I honestly would not trust anyone else to help me with that.
Max Performance has not only made me physically strong again, but they have also made me mentally strong. I know that after training with them that I have an advantage over many of my opponents, which has led me to be more confident in myself and my abilities.
I believe the mental aspect of my training is the most important. Becoming mentally strong comes during those last couple of reps when you think you cannot do it. But instead, you dig deep and finish. This has taught me to dig deep and fight, even when you don’t think you have anything left.
My last coach, Ellie Marshall, was one of my biggest inspirations after my injury. She taught me how to believe in myself again, and she helped me remember why I love the game of volleyball so much. I would be happy to grow up and be at least half the person she is.
I have a lot of little quotes and Bible verses that keep me motivated, and that help keep things in perspective, but this is one of my favorites:
“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true.” – Richard Bach
College: University of Oklahoma
High School: Air Academy, Class of 2013
Coaches dream of coaching athletes that are passionate about their sport, work hard to better themselves, and have fun doing it. Max Performance is lucky enough to train such an athlete in Caren Nelson. Always on time and with a smile on her face, Caren wasted no time in fitting right in to the Max Performance family. She brings her ‘A’ game to each and every training session, and does not settle for less than her best. Her attitude and enthusiasm is exactly what we hope to get out of every athlete that walks through our doors.
Caren enjoyed an outstanding career at Air Academy where she dominated on the soccer field for 4 years. Caren earned All-State 1st Team honors in 2012 after garnering 2nd Team recognition in 2011 and 2010. She also captained Air Academy to a 4A state title in 2012. While showcasing her talent with her high school and club teams, Caren turned the heads of college recruiters and eventually secured a scholarship offer from the University of Oklahoma. Caren recently left for Norman, Oklahoma where she will begin her freshman campaign in 2013.
“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.”
I always try to remember that no one is perfect. When I am struggling in practice, have had a bad game, or even have had a bad week, I remember that your failures shape who you become. You can choose to learn from your failures or continue to struggle. I remember everything happens for a reason and my failures and difficulties are what is going to help me in the future. It lets me grow as both an individual and a player. Failures happen, but you have to react positively in order to continue to be successful.
Max pushed me beyond my limits every day in order to help me physically and mentally. They helped me become stronger and more fit then I had ever been. Even when I was hurt they continued to help me get back to where I was. College sports are at a new level, but Max made the transition easy by training with intensity and continuing to push my boundaries.
My greatest inspiration is my parents. They have continued to support me in athletics and in my life. They are true role models and have never left my side. I could not be more thankful to have them in my life as they have truly developed me into the individual I am today. They make me want to strive to be the best I can be and I would never want to disappoint them.
I would say to practice every day. If you want to be successful it takes dedication which means doing something every single day. I would also say to never give up. There are going to be obstacles in life but its how you adapt and learn from them that will truly make you successful.
I feel as if I am in my defining moment right now in my life. I am recovering from an ankle injury and surgery and as much as it sucks to sit out it truly shows me how much I love playing soccer and how blessed I am to be able to play Division 1. It has showed me hard work pays off but you have to continue to push yourself to be that much better. I better understand that my passion is soccer and I play for the true reason, for the love of the game.
Let’s face it girls, boys played sports before us. It’s not our fault that girls were not allowed to play before 1972 (when Title IX was passed and girls could no longer be excluded from sports), but it is up to us to prove that girls can play hard! During the time I spent playing — and now coaching — girls sports, I’ve noticed that there are a few distinct differences in the way that male and female athletes play and practice. I’ve come up with a list of things that girls should learn from watching the boys.
Soccer is the most commonly played sport in the world. Inherent to this sport is the higher risk of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) relative to other sports.
Not surprisingly, ACL injuries cause the most time lost from competition.
Most ACL tears in soccer players are non-contact in nature. Common playing situations precluding a non-contact ACL injury include:
Female soccer players are three times more likely to suffer a non-contact ACL tear compared with male players.
Commonly purported intrinsic risk factors for female soccer players include:
In order to lower the risk of ACL injury in these female athletes, coaches should incorporate neuromuscular and proprioceptive training programs. This means female soccer players should be incorporating a dynamic warm-up that incorporates balance as well as change of direction to properly prepare the ankles, knees, and hips for the upcoming task at hand – playing soccer.
When participating in a strength and conditioning program, female athletes need to make sure they have a proper balance between hip dominant and knee dominant movements so that hamstring strength is developed along with quadriceps strength. Overemphasis on knee dominant exercises can cause the quadriceps to become stronger (over time) than the hamstrings and raise the risk of injury. Furthermore, girls need to be coached on how to jump and land with proper form. Working on the landing componennt is especially important, as it teaches the athlete to decelerate properly.
When soccer players participate in these types of training programs, they can decrease the risk of non-contact ACL injuries. Here are some statistics from one study comparing soccer playesr who participated in this type of training program (intervention group) to soccer players who did not perform this type of training (control group):
Those are some pretty powerful statistics and make a great case for the importance of female soccer players to get involved in a strength and conditioning program.
Gilchrist J, Mandelbaum BR, Melancon H, Ryan GW, Silvers HJ, Griffin LY, Watanabe DS, Dick RW, Dvorak J. A randomized controlled trial to prevent noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury in female collegiate soccer players. Am J Sports Med. 2008 Aug;36(8):1476-83.
Mandelbaum, B.R., Silvers, H. J., Wantanabee, D.S., et al. (2005). Effectiveness of a neuromuscular and proprioceptive training program in preventing anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: 2-year follow-up. Am J Sports Med, 33, 1003-10.