MEDINA — When Medina’s Jen Jankowski went down with an ACL injury earlier this month, it would have been easy to be selfish.
The prospect of missing the upcoming soccer season and what potential colleges might think would be enough to have any prep athlete thinking about what the future held.
But that’s never been the junior’s style on the pitch, and it wasn’t after sustaining the injury at a preseason tournament in Cincinnati.
“When the trainer told me that he was pretty sure I tore it, I started crying more not because of the pain, but the fact that I wouldn’t be playing with my teammates,” said Jankowski, who was slated to start at center midfield.
Those tears of frustration turned into a sense of relief in a matter of three weeks.
With an injury to her left knee, Jankowski noticed after a week and half that she was able to walk on it. The junior went to a physical therapist and after a series of tests, doctors declared her able to play with a fitted brace. She practiced with it for the first time Friday.
Jankowski will practice this week as the Bees prepare to play fellow nationally-ranked Pickerington North in a match Saturday at Crew Stadium in Columbus.
“To sit on the sidelines during tryouts… I just wanted to get out there so bad,” she said. “I love these seniors and I want to play with them.
“Winning state last year was crazy, and I hope we can do that again. I want to be a part of that.” Medina coach Doug Coreno, who battled various ACL injuries during his playing career, agreed.
“I’m just thrilled to have her back,” he said.
“We were very fortunate last year to have no major injuries. This year we lost three players before the season, so to get one of our keys players back, I’ll take it.”
The ironic part of the injury for Jankowski, who spent most of the preseason playing as a defensive center midfielder for the Bees, was the fact she had been doing workouts with her club team, Penine United, aimed to prevent the exact injury she sustained.
While the precautions didn’t work the way the 16-year-old expected, it did help in her ability to make a comeback to the pitch.
“When they told me it was my ACL, I didn’t believe it,” Jankowski said. “But my legs were so strong (because of the workouts) that they said I would be able to play. It helped me strengthen my muscles and take over the ACL part.”
With that in mind, Jankowski opted to delay surgery and help Medina defend its Division I state championship and national ranking.
The 5-foot-8 midfielder has had several schools on her radar to continue her playing career, but she found out which programs were serious after the injury.
“I was looking at a lot of schools in the spring and a lot of team are still interested and sent me supportive e-mails,” said Jankowski, whose decision is down to two unnamed schools.
Although Coreno wants Jankowski back as soon as possible, the third-year coach is going to watch her progress over the next few days.
“It will just depend on how she does coming back,” Coreno said. “We’re going to throw the QB red jersey on her to limit her to no contact. We’ll see how she responds and go from there.
“We definitely want to get her out there as fast as we can.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.