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Catching Up With A Cardinal - Katherine McCoy

A few important things in my life are family, friends, music, faith and nature… but something that my life has also revolved around since a young age has always been sports. I started playing soccer when I was three years old and joined my first team around the age of five. Any type of sport that involved a ball and a team caught my interest. Most of my childhood memories are from sports and my best friends today were made through athletic competition. My leadership skills, discipline, competitive edge and part of my personality were formed through sports programs. I have always been an active person and hated sitting inside and watching movies. That probably explains the reason I am clueless when people talk about classic Disney movies. Anyway, I played soccer and basketball in high school and was involved in one or the other or both year round. When I say year round, it means that I had a couple days off around the holidays, but other than that it was always go-go-go! There was no stop button, but I loved it more than anything. It was part of my identity. When people saw me or heard my name, one of the first things that came to their mind was "oh, that sports girl." It defined me, at least on the surface, more than I realized. I ultimately put basketball to the side and focused on soccer coming into college. I still remember the feeling I felt that first day of preseason my freshman year. I was so nervous, but I was also excited and confident in myself. Before I knew it, Otterbein Women's Soccer was my second family. I became involved in something so special that has changed my life forever. This program gave me my first real sense of purpose on this campus and my first true friends. Arriving to practice or waking up in the morning on a game day was so exciting. It was a time I could escape the reality of school, stress and other things to just compete. It was my outlet. I got to start several games my freshman year and also discover my role throughout the season. That freshman season for me went by so quickly and, right after the conclusion of our last match, I was already excited for the next season. Next August arrived and our season was full-go. Our team traveled to London, England for eight days to tour and also to play two games. This was an experience that not a lot of other players, especially at the D3 level, get to experience. It will definitely be one of my favorite Otterbein memories when I look back in 10 years. Shortly after we got back and started school, we traveled two weekends in a row to begin the season. The second weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was when I suffered my first concussion at college. It was my third major concussion in my life. I suffered a severe and life-threatening concussion when I was twelve years old, hitting my head, fracturing my skull and being forced to have brain surgery. My recovery was great and I was back to doing what I loved in a couple months. The second major concussion did not happen until my junior year of high school. So, coming back full circle to last September in Pittsburgh, I did not expect to be out of play for too long. I missed several matches and ended up coming back around three weeks later. A couple weeks into being healthy again, I took another ball to the head in the last five minutes of practice. I left quickly and thought I would be fine, but symptoms started coming back again that night. After I stepped off the field that day, I never imagined it would be my last practice as a player. Week after week went by and I still did not feel 100%. I got through some days with no issues, but other days the symptoms would hit me hard again. Every week that went by I would continue to doubt my recovery. It felt like I would never get better. I suddenly found myself in April, six months later, finally starting to consistently feel better. I saw a couple different neurologists to try and give me some guidance, but went into the summer months completely unsure if I would be able to play again. The last doctor I visited told me what I did not want to hear, and what I had been fearing for so long. However, it was exactly what I needed to hear… that I should no longer play. Two more years of soccer was not worth risking brain damage and possibly ruining my future. All those years of soccer and everything I loved about stepping on the field was done, just like that. No one knows exactly how life is going to go, but the way we react to what life throws is what shows true character. I never expected to have to stop playing when I did, but I know everything happens for a reason. I made the right choice for me and I am so blessed with all the time I have gotten to play, and all the wonderful people I have met along the way. If I had advice to give anyone, it would be that no matter what your passion is, never take it for granted. Through all of the craziness, stop for a second and enjoy it. Realize how lucky you are to be doing something you love. This season has been a transition. I am changing roles, but I am excited to be sticking around with the team and helping out wherever I can. We have an experienced and invested team this year, with a big portion of our team being juniors, seniors and two fifth-year players. I believe we can do extremely well and, after watching our younger players, I think they can play big roles as well. We fell short last year and I know that I can speak for everyone on this… it left a bad taste in our mouths. This season is going to be nothing short of exciting if we put in the work and only worry about what we can control. Katherine McCoy Class: 2017 Major: Allied Health Plans After College: Pediatric Occupational Therapist

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