Recovery From a Knee Injury

Caroline Garti (Senior Varsity Lacrosse Athlete at Yorktown High School) – Lafayette College

Brian Reda (Senior Varsity Lacrosse and Football Athlete at Pleasantville High School) – Fairfield University

Describe your knee injury and how it happened.

Caroline Garti: I remember being really confused and thinking, ‘Oh, not ACL, I just hyperextended my leg.’ I was in denial.

Brian Reda: I didn’t think it was that big of a deal even though I was definitely in a good amount of pain. I played the next two weeks thinking it was a strain but I knew something was up. Finally, after getting an MRI, I found out. I too was kind of in denial for a while. I didn’t really want to deal with it.

Talk about how hard it was to sit and not to contribute the way you were used to on the field. Now, how hard is it coming back and trusting your knee?

Caroline: All three years of my previous years, freshman, sophomore, and junior year, I was playing three sports, constantly moving, constantly going during the school year. Sitting on the sidelines was really tough for me mentally and physically. This past spring, I had one of my teammates tear her ACL too. I’m thankful I had Carli, we both leaned on each other and were able to talk to each other during practice. Other than that, it was really tough to watch my friends play the sport that we all love.

Brian: Similar for me, I couldn’t really come to terms with it. It was difficult for me to go to practice each and every day. I knew I had to be there because I was a captain and I wanted to support my teammates but to sit and watch them play and win was very difficult for me. Eventually, they went on to win the state championship which kind of sucked for me because I got to see that they really didn’t need me to do it. I tried to help out in as many ways that I could. At times it was really tough and I wanted to quit at it and just do my own thing but I knew that I owed it to my friends and teammates. I had to go and do whatever I could in order to help them win. It definitely was very difficult for the whole fall and into the winter.

In what ways were you able to contribute from the sidelines?

Caroline: I’m always trying to motivate everyone anyone even when I wasn’t able to play. So, I continued to do that. I would put on a happy face, show up at practice, and put my mental stuff aside so that I could better the team.

Brian: Before every game, our team does a ritual of speeches in the locker room after our team dinners. Since I couldn’t play, I tried to make my speeches each night that much better. I think the biggest thing was just using my injury in some way to motivate other people: Don’t take for granted the time you have on the field. Any game could be your last game so take advantage of every opportunity you have.

How great has it been being back on the field?

Caroline: It feels so amazing to be able to do things on the field that I was doing previously. Ripping shots have never felt better. Honestly, I’ve been to the lowest point and now I know that it is just up from here.

Brian: It’s definitely weird. At first, when I started to play again, I kind of forgot how to do this. I hadn’t moved like that in a long time. Just being out there makes me so happy every day in practice. I’ll never take it for granted ever again, it just feels great.

What was your biggest hesitancy when coming back?

Brian: Definitely doing the roll dodge – the move that I did when I hurt my knee. I always think about the injury when I do that move. I try not to but it definitely crosses my mind every now and then when I make that cut.

How has it been with the brace?
Caroline: It’s been hard and annoying but I’m learning my limitations with it. For example, I can’t hyperextend my knee anymore – which is a good thing. It’s been weird to get used to but I’m getting there.

What kind of effort did you have to put in in order to get back to the level you are currently at?
Caroline: The physical thing I leaned on during recovery was a three times per week PT (physical therapy) and two times per week at Athletes Warehouse (AW) schedule. AW went passed the step of PT because I was able to mentally work on overcoming obstacles, not just physical ones. After the recovery process, I was then able to transition to AW and continue to work on my mental game.

Brian: PT was more effective for me right after surgery. I was able to get back my range of motion and work on some strengthening there. It wasn’t until I started to work out at Athletes Warehouse with Nick 3-4 times per week that I started to build my muscles up again. Essentially, I had to teach myself how to run on that leg again. I really think my knee now is stronger than it was before I hurt it.

What has been your motivation?
Caroline: My motivation is the people that surround me on the field. The feeling of camaraderie is so big for me. I love talking with my teammates, laughing with my teammates, and winning with my teammates especially. It’s been an amazing feeling to be back on a team again.

Brian: My motivation is definitely winning. Winning overall has been what always motivates me. I don’t really like to lose that much. The biggest motivation for me is that a lot of my friends and teammates got to accomplish a state championship and I was definitely a part of it but I wasn’t on the field so my motivation is to play my last season and go for a state championship in lacrosse.

What has it meant to play for the town you come from?
Caroline: In Yorktown, the alumni network is so special. I am always seeing former lacrosse players come back to our fundraiser, practices, and games. You’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for the name on your jersey and you’re playing for the people that have come before you and the people that are to come after you.

Brian: In Pleasantville, we always teach brotherhood and reinforce how things are always earned and never given. It encompasses the whole idea of being blue collar. We play a rug burn style of lacrosse where we scrum it out and play hard. It’s not always pretty but we try and play as hard as we can and earn all the games that we win.

What other sport would you be playing if you weren’t playing lacrosse?
Caroline: Field Hockey
Brian: Golf

Favorite postgame meal?
Caroline: Pasta with butter
Brian: Steak

Caroline: Headband
Brian: Headband for me too. Leg sleeve on my right leg. I also do the same thing before every game: I walk down, say good luck to the goalie in the crease, stretch to my right and left, and then clank each of my shoes.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your high school freshman self?
Caroline: Don’t let the nerves get to your head.
Brian: Always strive to be better than the guy next to you.

Favorite jersey to wear?
Caroline: Oh absolutely white.
Brian: Definitely white-out, for sure.

What is one thing you can’t live without?
Caroline: My dog, Chief
Brian: Food

Any idea on what you want to be when you grow up?
Caroline: A dermatologist or something with biology.
Brian: An investment banker in New York City

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