Clarece is a 19-year old athlete who has been playing football since the age of three. She grew up on a cattle/sheep farm in South West Queensland, Australia: 100 kilometres (one hour) from the closest town and 600 kilometres from Brisbane. She was fortunate enough however to have amazing parents who, from the time she was ten, drove on average 2,500 kilometres each week so that she could attend training and games. During her career, she has played for both her State and the Australian All-Stars team. After finishing high-school in 2017 she moved 1,500 km interstate on her own to pursue her studies and football.
FOLLOW CLARECE ON IG: @clarecestrudwick
Q&A with Clarece
1) Can you share our ACL story?
Fast forward 12 months to December 2018, I got tackled from my right hand side and fell down due to the impact. When I got up my left knee felt a bit weird, so my coach sat me on the bench for the remainder of the game. After a couple of days rest, I returned to training. My knee still felt a little different but mostly okay, so I figured it was nothing to worry about. It wasn’t until training the following day, during a simple, non-contact drill I crossed the ball with my left foot and whilst my leg was still swinging through the air, I heard and felt the pop every athlete dreads. After an MRI scan it was confirmed I’d completely ruptured the ACL, strained my MCL and had severe bone-bruising. I spent almost two months doing rehab before having the operation on January 25th 2019.
2) What was the hardest part of the injury?
It’s difficult to pick the hardest part of this injury because I feel each stage has brought with it different challenges. The most consistent challenge however is that for the five months since I tore my ACL, I don’t believe a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of the injury in one way or another. I’ve felt trapped with my thoughts and I’ve felt isolated because it’s a heartbreak very few people understand. My family have always been my biggest supporters, so it’s been difficult of course to go through this without them.
3) What advice would you share with other athletes recovering from similar injuries?
The biggest piece of advice I’d like to give to all athletes, is to do your injury prevention programs and listen to your body. Look at the bigger picture – is one game or one training session really worth a whole year on the sideline or the end of your career? If only I’d taken better precaution after my initial injury, perhaps I wouldn’t have done as much damage.
Advice number two, is to allow yourself the time to grieve, because honestly, it is a loss and it deserves to be treated as such. In saying that, don’t get caught looking back and being bitter about the past. Thinking why me? What if and if only? Start looking forward to the future as soon as possible and taking action to ensure you have the best recovery possible.
Lastly, use this time wisely. Focus on parts of your chosen sport which previously you neglected. Whether it’s watching more professional games to improve your IQ, improve your eating and sleeping habits and of course working on your physical strength. For me personally, the part I’ve focused on most is the mental-side. Through much analyzing, this injury has helped me rediscover why I really fell in love with the sport when I was just a kid. I’ve come to realize that no matter how good my surgeon or physio is, if I’m not paying careful attention to the thoughts in my mind then I’m missing a major step.
4) What is your dream after making a full comeback?
My biggest dream is to play professionally. Unlike previously however, I’m going back to play for the love of the game, not only to achieve something. My attitude has changed so much since this injury, and when I return I vow to be grateful for every minute I get to play because I know what it’s like not to play at all.
Thank you Clarece for sharing your experience and helping to inspire athletes across the globe!