Camille Stafford has been an athlete for as long as she can remember and loves to compete. She was a competitive gymnast for 10 years, and has played soccer since she started walking. Ultimately, she chose to pursue lacrosse at a collegiate level. Currently, she is a Sophomore at the University of Southern California in the Annenberg School of Communication studying Public Relations with a Spanish minor.
What's your ACL story?
My ACL story begins in February of 2015 during an indoor lacrosse game. My teammate and I collided off the draw within the first ten minutes of the game. Her knee cap hit the inside of my planted right leg. Close up, it probably would have looked similar to a t-bone car accident. A month after the injury I had ACL reconstructive surgery as well as a medial and lateral menisci repair. I missed spring and summer lacrosse and rehabbed in preparation for the 2016 spring season. I came back for about five games in the 2016 lacrosse season to trip over someone’s cleat and have the stitches in my medial meniscus fail. Therefore, I had a meniscectomy in April of 2016. Following my second knee surgery I went through similar, but less rigorous, physical therapy. With the help of Dwayne Johnson and many others I was able to successfully complete my senior lacrosse season and continue training through the summer leading up to my freshman year at college. I was preparing to play lacrosse at the University of Southern California in the fall. In the last practice before my team was leaving for the inaugural PAC-12 tournament in Colorado I was in a rough collision with a teammate in the 8 meter. We were moving in opposite directions creating an “X” pattern. Where the two lines intersect was when I had my left leg planted and my upper body jostled in the opposite direction and my knee caved inward. Immediately I knew exactly what happened and the next twelve months flashed before my eyes. I tore my left ACL, medial and lateral menisci and was operated on in June of 2018. I am currently 5 weeks out of my third knee surgery and am hopeful about my return to the field.
What was the hardest part of the experience?
The hardest part of the experience is patience. As an person I am very active and like to continue moving forward. Once I finish or accomplish something I’m ready to move onto the next task. With an ACL injury there is a lot of down time and I often feel stuck and limited by my injury. As with any injury it’s difficult to stay positive, but it is essential to set goal and try and stick with them.
How did you stay motivated?
I stay motivated because I know what I am capable of when I am healthy. I know that I can recover from this injury and be a successful, contributing member of my team. Even though I am with a new team at a higher level, I am confident that when all is said and done that it will be able to compete again. Also, I live an active lifestyle weather or not I’m in season and without sounding cliché, I’m motivated to get my life back.
What advice would you give other athletes on the road to recovery?
I would tell other athletes to take their recovery very seriously and understand the importance of it, but do not let it dominate your life. As athletes, we are extremely dedicated to our craft and take a lot of pride in that, which is essential to a successful recovery. At the same time, allow yourself to have good and bad days, to cry and laugh, to have fun with friends and family. Remember that the injury and recovery will become a big part of your life especially for the first couple of months, but that it does not define you as an athlete or a person. A major piece of the recovery is mental and I have found interest in things not related to athletics, which I believe were imperative to my previous recoveries.
Do you think this experience has change you as a person?
This experience has ABSOLUTELY changed me as a person and will continue to do so in the upcoming months. It has hands down made me grateful for every moment I’ve been able to step on a field. I have grown tremendously as a person and have become a better friend to others who are going through long and difficult periods in their life. I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of and areas of myself that I need to improve. I was not prepare for how much my injuries would rock my world and I would say by the third one I’m doing much better at taking things in stride and adapting an every changing situation.