An anterior cruciate ligament injury is an athlete’s nightmare. The only imaginable thing that’s worse: two ACL injuries.
That’s what happened to Missouri forward Jessica Herrman, who was forced to sit out her first two college soccer seasons due to two ACL tears in the same leg. She first injured her ACL during the spring of her senior year of high school, then again the summer going into her second year of college.
“It was rough at first,” Herrman said of the injury. “It didn’t really hit me, but then once I got used to it, I just knew I had to be there for [my teammates]. Seeing them perform well really helped me get back on the field.”
Sporting a Tiger gold knee brace, Herrman was able to play her first game with the Mizzou this year as a redshirt sophomore when she stepped onto the field in the team’s sole preseason match against North Carolina. Since then, Herrman has tallied 226 minutes of play and five shots in seven games.
“She’s just a warrior,” Mizzou coach Bryan Blitz said. “She’s getting better each game, and I think as the season goes on, her athleticism will show more and more.”
Seven games in, she’s still getting used to being back on the field.
“It’s a shocking feeling after every game,” she said.
The Kansas City native hasn’t looked just to her team for motivation. Her older brother coaches a youth league team and she said that team is a main source of hope for her, as well.
“They look up to me,” Herrman said. “I want to keep playing for them and for everything that I did before my injuries to get to where I am now.”
At the Tigers’ first home game against Northwestern, the group of little girls were present to watch Herrman perform.
“It was amazing,” Herrman said of the night. “I love playing for them. They’re another reason why I play: to inspire them.”
Junior defender Candace Johnson said Herrman is her best friend and is excited to have Herrman back on the field this year. Herrman’s combination of speed, touches on the ball and powerful shot have given way to Johnson setting lofty hopes for her friend.
“I want her to score, like, seven goals,” Johnson said. “And I want her to just have fun and make it through the season without any injuries.”
Herrman said that she’s “not at the potential that [she] was,” but believes she can get there again.
“You can’t dwell on it,” Herrman said. “It’s life. It’s going to happen. You just have to stay positive and it’ll come back and be a good thing in your life.”
Played 50 minutes for the first time in 2 years!! It went pretty well!
— Jessica Herrman (@Herrman_24) August 10, 2014