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
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.
Do you play one sport all year round? Or, are you a multi-sport athlete?
Can being a multi-sport athlete help you excel in your primary sport?
Elsbeth Vaino states that 82% of the top athletes in 2012 from the four major team sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) played multiple sports growing up.1
When considering Vaino’s statistic of 82%, the case for playing more than one sport seems pretty clear. Is it required to be a succesful athlete? No, but the chances of having a long athletic career and playing at a high level are much better.
Different sports require different skills – sprinting, cutting, jumping, rotating, overhead throwing or overhead hitting. The top athletes in the world are those who possess the ability to perform each of those athletic skills well. How do they acquire and develop those skills? Playing multiple sports.
That’s not to say an athlete who only plays one sport cannot succeed. After all, you cannot become a better softball or soccer player without working on your craft. But when all of those reps, drills, and practices are piled onto one another over the course of a full year, the risk of overuse injuries begins to rise. In fact, according to the largest clinical study of its kind, young athletes who specialize in one sport have a significantly higher risk of stress fractures and other severe overuse injuries, even when compared with other injured athletes.2
Dr. James Andrews, best known for his work with Tommy John and ACL surgeries, has seen a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports since 2000.3 According to Dr. Andrews, one of the biggest factors for this rise in injuries is specialization.
“Specialization leads to playing the sport year-round. That means not only an increase in risk factors for traumatic injuries but a sky-high increase in overuse injuries. Almost half of sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse.” -Dr. James Andrews
This is why the off-season is so important for athletes. The off-season is the perfect time to give your body some much needed rest. The thousands upon thousands of repeated repetitions that accumulated over the previous season can add up, and whether you feel it or not, there may be some lingering issues. Heck, if professional athletes take at least 2 months off from their sport every year, isn’t that saying something?
For the kid who is not a multi-sport athlete, the off-season is your time to really focus on your strength and conditioning program.
While your teammates move on to a different sport, your strength and conditioning program becomes your other sport.
Work on the movements that your sport neglects. Work to build strength in your legs, torso, back, and scapular stabilizers. Get plenty of soft tissue work in and do not ignore your flexibility and mobility work. The return on your investment here will be huge when you return to the court or field.
All injury talk aside, kids who play multiple sports typically have a better well-rounded sports experience. They usually have better personal character and can be more attractive to college recruiters. They learn different coaching styles, interact with different types of athletes, and learn to mentally handle the challenge that each sport presents. There is also a certain level of social interaction that occurs across different sports that can help an athlete become a better well-rounded person.
So, if you are a mutli-sport athlete, do not quit playing other sports just so you can focus on your primary sport. Your long term athletic development will be better because of your variety of experiences. If you are fortunate enough to compete as an athlete after high school, then you can think about narrowing your focus.
If you currently only play one sport, you don’t need to go searching for another sport to play – especially if you have no desire to play another sport. Just make sure to have an off-season. Rest your body and have a quality game plan for your strength and conditioning program so you can come into the following season stronger and better prepared.
What are your thoughts? How many of you are multi-sport athletes? Do you focus on just one sport? Use the comments below to tell us your background.