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August 30, 2018
Soccer midfielder Alison Ward returns to the field after she redshirted during her 2017 senior season due to a knee injury.
Ward, an interdisciplinary studies fifth-year senior from Tarpon Springs, Fla., said she injured her knee in the fall of 2016. Due to the injury, Ward had meniscus surgery the following spring semester.
During the summer, Ward underwent another knee surgery called an artificial cartilage implant to fully correct the injury.
Ward decided she wanted to continue playing for the Colonels soccer team, so she contacted head coach Mac McBride to ask to be redshirted for the 2017 season.
Ward said she did not want to hang up the cleats after her injury.
“I’m usually not a quitter,” Ward said. “I don’t give up very easily. I wanted one more healthy season to play with my teammates.”
Ward’s coaches and teammates said they were not shocked by her decision.
Fellow senior midfielder Haylee Atwell said she knew Ward was determined to stay on the team.
“I was not surprised that Ali took her redshirt, because since I was a freshman, I could tell how much she loved the game,” Atwell said. “Ali has a real passion for soccer, and I knew if she got the chance to play another year, she would take it.”
Ward said that redshirt status meant she would go to all team practices, but could not dress out with the team or play in games for the entire season.
“It was really hard. I had a lot of breakdowns. But it was also a good experience for me, because I became more of a leader for the team,” Ward said.
Assistant coach Danny Free said that during her redshirt year, Ward took on responsibility with the team and helped out in the ways she could.
Atwell said Ward would constantly support the team from the sidelines.
“Even though she could not be on the field physically, she would always stay involved. She was at every practice, game and activity, always supporting us,” Atwell said.
Now back in action, Ward said she feels like she is playing better than ever.
Head coach Mac McBride said he was impressed with Ward’s rehabilitation.
“I’m surprised how well she’s done in this season so quickly,” McBride said. “It’s one thing to come back and play after a major surgery like that, but [it’s another thing] to come back and play so well. She’s one of the quickest players on the team, and that’s after a knee surgery. We did not expect that.”
Assistant coach Danny Free said Ward’s injury was not a simple one to recover from and bounce back to action.
“It’s quite a common injury among female soccer players, but most players don’t come back from it,” Free said.
While Ward said she has the option to continue playing after she graduates in December, she pointed out that her college soccer career will end upon graduation.
Ward has decided to stay in Thibodaux to help coach the E.D. White High School women’s soccer team.