Katelyn Aguilar is a seventeen year old athlete and is currently in junior high school in the US. She plays soccer and is a center forward for her school, as well as for her travel team, u18 Richmond Kickers Gold Pride. Katelyn started playing soccer at the age of five when her dad shared his love for the game with her.
She has dreams of playing Division 1 at the University of Virginia and becoming an immigration lawyer!
FOLLOW HER ON IG: @k8lynaguilar
Q&A with Katelyn
1) Can you share your ACL story?
I've torn my ACL twice and both stories are rather short so I'll share both.
My first ACL tear happened during my freshman year, only one week after making my varsity high school team. I was playing in a soccer tournament at a turf field complex - I was running to save the ball from going out of bounds and did a pull back to save it. As I planted my foot I started to pivot and my cleat got stuck in the turf. I had partially torn my ACL and used a hamstring graft to repair my ACL.
My second ACL tear was about a year and a half after my surgery. I went to Portugal with my travel soccer team in the summer of 2018. It was the last 10 minutes of the first half in our very first game being in Portugal. I was running to receive a pass from my teammate and I hadn't even gotten the ball yet and was already on the ground. A girl on the opposing team came from behind and hit my right knee outward as it was planted. I didn't play for the rest of the trip and after returning back from Portugal I had my second ACL surgery on my right knee. This time my medial meniscus was torn as well and I went with the patellar tendon graft.
The ACL reconstruction with the hamstring was definitely less painful than with the patellar tendon graft, which caused constant aches when I bent the knee for too long. With the hamstring graft, I did not experience that at all.
2) What went through your mind when you first tore your ACL?
Honestly, I don't really remember what exactly I thought. I do remember being disappointed in myself for it happening and for letting everyone down. I remember being upset because my parents had to pay for another surgery just a year later (the first surgery cost $5,600 USD and the second surgery cost nearly $7,000 USD after insurance). Other than that I was pretty numb to it and in denial about the fact that I even tore it again up until my surgery day. I tried my very best to not even think about it. It was summer and I wanted more than anything to just be happy and stress free.
3) What was the hardest part of the recovery experience?
The hardest part about my experience was not being able to do what I loved - knowing I was capable of doing so, but my body not allowing me to so. Four days after my second ACL surgery I had my first physical therapy session and had to do leg lifts. It was definitely one of the hardest things ever. I tried so hard to lift my leg from of the table and it just wouldn't happen - something I didn't experience my first time around when I had the hamstring graft. That day I had my first of many breakdowns, but had to understand that the feeling was temporary and that I would soon overcome it. The second time around was easier mentally, but definitely not physically. Going through it the second time, I know when I can push myself and I know when to stop. I know that I can persevere and get through it. I also know how much harder I have to work this time around. I now know and understand how crucial the recovery process is and that it shouldn't be rushed. I'm just much more educated on it making it mentally much easier.
4) What advice would you share with other athletes going through the same obstacles?
Advice I would share with any other athletes going through this is to surround yourself with positivity and to ALWAYS do your exercises at home. No one can want it more than you. If you don't work for it and get results you didn't want there is no one to blame but yourself! You have to take control and responsibility of your injury because only you are capable of making it better - no one can do it for you.
5) Has this experience changed you in any way?
This experience has changed me as a person for sure. As cliche as it sounds, I truly believe that I am so much stronger and put much more effort towards things I want because it definitely will pay off. I know what I am capable of and know that I can strive to be greater no matter what is holding me down.
Thank you Katelyn for sharing your story with athletes across the globe!