October 4, 2000 - by

Dee Foard Overcomes Injuries

Oct. 4, 2000


It was a game just like any of the previous 43 Dee Foard had played since
coming to Florida State as a freshman in 1997.


She took the field against
Wake Forest on September 19th and had a typical Dee Foard game. She anchored
the defense and played her usual role as a vocal team leader. It was a tough
game for the Seminoles. FSU traveled to Winston-Salem and came up a goal
short. As the closing seconds ticked off the clock, players were starting to
head off the field and then it happened.


“People were walking off the field in the last few seconds and it was a
freak accident,” Dee recalls. “My player was going for the goal and as I cut
my cleats stuck in the ground and my body twisted and I heard a loud pop and
it was my ACL, MCL and four tears in my meniscus and part of my femur, then
she fell on me to top it off, which might have increased the damage.”


Dee had never been seriously injured in her entire playing career, which
spanned 17 years at that point. That kind of record led Dee to believe she
was indestructible. It wasn’t arrogance, it just never entered her mind that
she could suffer such a devastating injury.


“It was hard for me to accept the fact that I wasn’t unstoppable or
unbreakable,” Dee said. “My first thought was ‘am I going to lose my
starting spot’ but I wasn’t sure how severe the injury was.”


Dee was originally supposed to be out for six weeks and she started
rehabbing immediately. Her first step was to get into the weight room twice
a day. She would work out three times a week and as the weeks went by, she
increased her workout schedule. Her rehab also included a lot of fitness
work.


“I became a gym rat and that’s the last thing I ever thought I would be,”
Dee said. “It was very hard for me, after playing so much my first three
seasons, to sit and watch my teammates instead of being on the field with
them.”


After suffering her first injury and rehabbing for almost two months, Dee
was ready to start practicing again. Then, in another freak occurrence, Dee
reinjured the knee in warm-ups at practice. After all the hard work to get
back, Dee suffered her second injury in the span of two months.


“I was very disappointed but the second injury just made me want to
comeback even more,” Dee remembers. “I didn’t want to let the previous six
weeks of work go to waste. I couldn’t face the fact that there wouldn’t be
any more games for me. I couldn’t allow that to happen. ”


Many people would have given up after their second serious injury in such a
short span. Knowing that you have to do all that work again with no promises
that you won’t wind up in the same position would have been enough incentive
for many athletes to call it a career. That wasn’t the case with Dee.


“The second injury actually gave me more focus and gave me a new positive
outlook on the situation,” Dee said. “It was like a whole new epiphany on
how I was going to get back. It made me look at my second rehab with more
urgency.”


What was supposed to be six weeks worth of work has now turned into almost
12 months. With the help of numerous doctors, trainers and strength and
conditioning personnel, Dee started all over again.


“I’m still playing on a partial ACL and a torn meniscus, which they will
operate on after the season,” said Dee. “If I had got those operated on, I
would have never had the chance to make it back for this season.”


Dee continued to work hard. She spent hours in the gym, she worked on her
fitness and she tried to strengthen her knee. Rehabbing is a process that a
person often goes through without their teammates and Dee had to motivate
herself to keep going. Her teammates didn’t always see the time she put in
when she was rehabbing. It was a very solitary process.


A year after her injury, Dee finally made it back on the field. She entered
the September 24th game against Florida International University to rousing
applause from the Seminole faithful but it wasn’t the end of the story for
Dee.


“When I got back on the field against FIU, it just wasn’t the closure I was
looking for,” Dee said. “When I am 100% go and I can give all that I can, I
will feel like I am back. I hope that can be this weekend against Wake
Forest. I want to start enjoying the senior year I worked so hard for.”
That’s right, Wake Forest is back this weekend and Dee believes this will
be the perfect time to allow her some closure to what has been a year full
of challenges. The Demon Deacons are facing the Seminoles today and Dee can’
t help but think of what happened last year.


“Wake Forest is like a ghost,” Dee said. “I believe that everything happens
for a reason but I can’t help but get a little ticked off when I think about
that game. Everyone was walking off the field when I got hurt. Playing
against Wake today would be great closure for me. It would be the final
chapter in a long road back. I won’t get back on the field unless I am 100%,
though.”


When Dee gets on the practice field, she doesn’t even think about the
injury and that was an important hurdle for her to clear. She got her
confidence back during the rehab stage and she knew she would comeback and
she knew she would comeback strong. What Dee still worries about is earning
back the respect she had before the injury. Respect is the most important
thing for her. Dee has to prove to herself, her teammates and her coaches
that she is the same old Dee. But it’s not always easy to forget what
happened.


“I try not to think about the past because sometimes it’s hard to deal with
and think about,” Dee said. “It’s hard to accept that I have gone from the
player I was to the player I am now. Focusing in on the last part of my
senior season has been a great way to focus on the future and not on the
past. All I am thinking about is getting back and playing.”
Dee is setting goals for herself and hoping it will be a positive way to
motivate her to return to the team. At one point the goals involved starting
and playing time but not any more.


“Winning back a starting spot is just an incentive now,” Dee said. “I just
want to get back and be there for my teammates. I want to be there for coach
Baker. I want to give back to Florida State soccer. I want to give back the
heart, the passion and the courage for the sport. They recruited me. They’ve
always come through for me. I feel that I need to give something back to my
team.”


Dee hasn’t been able to enjoy the team’s success this season because she
feels somewhat detached from the accomplishments. She has to be playing to
enjoy the success and she feels that it wasn’t her presence that got FSU to
No. 12 in the nation this year. So what would be the perfect ending for Dee
this year?


“The ultimate for me would be playing in the NCAA Tournament during my
senior season but this last stretch of games in the ACC is very important
for me also,” Dee said. “This is the year Florida State is going to make a
national impact and that is already happening. We are going to earn our
respect this year.”


Dee has put her personal goals behind and just wants to focus on helping
the team succeed and getting back in the game. She has been such a
consistent presence in the back for the Seminoles and she wants to play a
role again. But there is one personal achievement she wants to set before
she leaves the program.


“I can take some pride in the part I played in getting this program to the
point it is at now,” Dee said. “I want to be remembered as a player who
loved the game and had a passion for soccer. I have given everything I have
to this game and that’s what I want people to think of when they think about
Dee Foard.”

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