Amanda Laddish thought her soccer days were numbered.
But after two full seasons of recovering from a serious hip injury that forced her to undergo two surgeries and contemplate retirement, the Utah Royals midfielder is healthy and ready to play.
“It's obviously really, really exciting for me given the fact that this time last year I just wasn’t sure that I be able to play again,” Laddish told The Salt Lake Tribune. “So being able to be back with my team and playing whatever role I need to play, and just to be in training and to be around the team back in the environment just feels so good.”
As a member of FC Kansas City in 2016, Laddish got tackled during a game and felt her hip pop out and back into place. She finished the game, however, and eventually the season despite experiencing an increasing amount of pain.
By the offseason, Laddish couldn’t do much of anything without pain. She couldn’t jump. She couldn’t cut. She thought it be the end of her career and, by extension, her identity.
“I've been playing soccer since I was 3, and I've always identified as a soccer player,” Laddish said. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player. So when that's taken away from you without any warning, you kind of lose yourself and you're like, 'Who am I? What do I want to do after soccer?’"
An MRI revealed a possible impingement, but she went to another doctor for a second opinion. That was when she learned the full extent of her injury.
“He basically told me it looks like I'd been in a car wreck because I had so much damage in my hip,” Laddish recalled the doctor telling her.
Laddish had damaged the articular cartilage in her hip, torn her labrum and had impingement that damaged other cartilage in the area, she said. The injury called for repair to her labrum and microfracture surgery that kept her out the entire 2017 season.
But something wasn’t right. Eight months after the surgery, after she’d already joined the Royals, Laddish still couldn’t run at high speeds or even kick a ball without a significant amount of pain. She played one week of preseason in Utah before seeking another surgery in Vail, Colorado, at the recommendation of the Royals’ team doctor, Andrew Cooper.
The second surgery was similar to the first, Laddish said, with the exception that her labrum would be repaired by grafting her IT band and making a new one rather than stitching it. She said she felt confident the surgery had worked, and that was proven when she hit the strides she was supposed to hit in the time frame she was scheduled to hit them.
“I finally made my way back to where I am now,” Laddish said.
The 26-year-old Missouri native had an easier time coping with the second surgery and its recovery. But it was the first one that caused her to quickly fall into a depression, she said. The most difficult aspect of her initial recovery was being on crutches for two months and not being able to do anything for herself.
But Laddish had plenty of support. She said she owes her physical and mental recovery to teammate Becca Moros, her friends and her mother. She also said one of her other teammates Diana Matheson, gave her a book called “Resilience” that also helped her through recovery.
Laddish started regularly for Kansas City, but she knows that with the Royals, she has a lot of catching up to do after not having played a competitive soccer game for the better part of two years. Her goal this season, she said, is to find a way to break into the lineup once the national team players leave and slowly work her way back to where she was before the injury.
“I think if I can learn to be patient with myself and then continue to grow as season progresses, I'll be happy with how the season went,” Laddish said.
Laddish admitted that she still thinks about her injury every day. But now that she’s back to her normal routine of training, working out and spending time with her teammates as she once did almost three years ago, she feels like she’s right where she needs to be.
Laddish said: “I feel like myself again.”
WASHINGTON SPIRIT AT UTAH ROYALS FC
At Rio Tinto Stadium
Kickoff » Saturday 7 p.m. MDT
Live stream » Yahoo Sports
Last meeting » URFC 1, Washington 0 (Aug. 22, 2018)
Records » URFC 0-0-0, Washington 1-0-0
About Washington » Chloe Logarzo (Right Ankle), Mallory Eubanks (MAT), Sammy Jo Prudhomme (Illness) will not play. … Finished the 2018 season with a 2-17-5 record. … Samantha Staab and Megan Crosson have each scored a goal. …
About URFC » A crowd of between 17-18,000 expected for home opener. … Sydney Miramontez (Right foot), Becca Moros (Left knee), Diana Matheson (Right foot) are out. … Have yet to play a game due to bye week. … Christen Press, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara will play only two games for the Royals before leaving for France.