Marilu (Lulu) Yanez is a graduate of New Roads High School in Santa Monica. As a prep, she was a four year varsity starter, as an outside hitter. A multi-sport athlete, she also played varsity softball, basketball, soccer, and track & field. Marilu was an All-CIF selection in 2006, 2007 and 2008 in volleyball.
Upon graduating from New Roads, Marilu accepted an academic scholarship to Roger Williams University located in Bristol, RI. While at Roger Williams, she played Defensive Specialist and earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award in 2008, 2009, and 2010. She also received NEWVA Academic Team Award in 2011, and RWU Hawkmate of The Year Award 2011. Marilu was a three year starter for RWU and as a senior was Team Captain. She was a key member of her team as they were defending Commonwealth Coast Conference Champions for three consecutive seasons with undefeated records. Roger Williams also made three appearances in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In 2011, the Hawks posted an impressive 36-3 record.
1) Can you share your ACL story?
I was at my high school volleyball alumni game and we were warming up doing hitting lines and as I took the last step of my approach I felt / heard my knee pop out of place mid air. I tried my best to land on my right leg but the damage was done. My adrenaline must have been off the charts because I hopped off the court thinking I could shake it off and still play. However, after about 10 minutes of sitting down and my sister knocking some sense into me, we decided to go to the ER. While we were there my knee popped back into place. After seeing my orthopedic and getting an MRI done we found out I tore my ACL and MCL.
2) What has been the toughest part of the experience so far?
For me, the toughest part was accepting that it was a freak accident and that 80% of ACL tears are non-contact. At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around injuring myself with a volleyball move (approach) I’ve been doing since the age of 14. I had to really accept the injury for what it was and positively roll with the punches.
3) How did you prepare for the surgery mentally and physically?
Because I also tore my MCL I had to do prehab. My doctor wanted my MCL to heal as much as possible before surgery so I had physical therapy 3 x a week for 6 weeks prior to my ACL surgery. Mentally I’ve been doing a lot of personal development. Reading or hearing a lot of self help books and motivational speakers has positively impacted my mindset going into surgery and is still prepping me for what’s next.
4) What are your recommendations regarding nutrition for athletes going through the ACL recovery?
Nutrition is key! Especially when you can’t workout or do cardio the way you want to. How you fuel your body matters! This is not the time to sit back and let the pounds pack on. If anything this is the perfect time to be proactive and focus on what you can control and make how you eat/ drink a priority!
5) What other advice do you have for athletes who have just found out that they have torn their ACL?
Mindset is everything. Stay positive, know that your only limit is you and if life seems a bit blurry to you right now, it just means you have to adjust your focus. Surround yourself with those who uplift you and want to see you succeed throughout your journey and don’t be afraid to join a supportive community or meet people who have been through an ACL tear!
6) What are your goals/dreams after recovering from this injury?
So what I thought was going to be just an ACL reconstruction surgery ended up being that plus a meniscus repair and MCL reconstruction as well! Which means my recovery will be a bit longer than most. My goal is to fully recover however, I’ve been a health coach for 5 years and my biggest goal throughout my recovery journey is to inspire/ show people that you can still work towards your health goals and achieve results while injured!
Thank you Lulu for sharing your story and in inspiring athletes from across the globe!