Chapter 5 } My Soccer Slidetackle in exchange for a Torn ACL at 18

How tearing my ACL and consequential road to working out was not enough to stop me from getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of 22…

"Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at a Fit 22 Years of Age"

My nickname on the competitive team donned me a trophy one year. “Team Terror.” I was tough. I was a little scrawny 5.5 tough gal. I ran like hell, battled but could hardly deke and I never gave up. My mother couldn’t come to the games. I’d be piercing down the wing, get pummeled by a girl double my size, roll it out through somersaults right back onto my feet again without flinching! She couldn’t stand to see what would happen at the end.

I’m switching back now to after the October 22 car accident. Trust me, there is a rhyme to my reason of the order of telling my story. When the accident happened, I had just entered my second year of University at Queens. I’d moved out of my dorm, “Addy Hall”, affectionately nicknamed “The Nunnery”  for its girl residence. I had rented a house just North of Princess and Division Road and was sharing with 3 other roommates. I shared with 3 girls who were a little more mature then my dorm mates as I was a bit older than the other girls having being kept back a grade and also been away from home and parental rule already at the age of 16 years old when I worked for as a camp counselor for a family camp called Red Pine Camp for two summers. The job required 48 16 and 17 year olds to live in shared cabins for the summer while we worked for particular departments.

I was fit. Always had been. Born premature, my twin and I were naturally think, often sending the school nurses and teachers into inquisitive mode with my family, wondering if we were fed enough. We had incredibly high metabolisms and lived on acres of farm land with plenty of room to run around. We were not malnourished by any stretch of the means. We also enrolled in multiple sports and extra curricular activities. In part, to make up for the seclusion in which my home was, my mother’s intent was to make sure we could meet other children in these sports enrollments, because we couldn’t exactly run down  the street to a corner store or walk across the street to any neighbourhood kid.

We were enrolled in gymnastics, tennis and soccer. Soccer was my brother and I’s main sport that we would continue in since we were to young to deke and grabbed t-shirts instead to stop the play. Which is a riot if you’ve ever watched little tikes first starting in soccerball. There is no “positioning” as the kids run around following the ball like moths to a flame! I’d love to see a fast motion video from aerial on a kids soccer game. We would both go on to play competitive soccer. When I started there was no girls teams yet and I had to play on the boys teams. This was no problem until an opposing team had the same colour of jerseys and we had to go shirtless. Shirtless at prepubescent 13 isn’t exactly a good move. I sat out many a game that year. I also did synchronized swimming which I quite liked dancing in the water. In elementary school we started long distance running and this would continue into highschool along side soccer and other track and field events, like long jump and 200-400 metre relay. I was one of those runners with a second wind. I’d start hard, plateau out in the middle and then out of no where I’d get a gust of steam and  start lagging everyone and try to pull up and pass whomever to get to ….second. Always second. I think it was an engrained Canadian, “Oh, no you go first” mentality like I wonder a lot of our Olympic Athletes and NHL hockey teams seem to play a lot.

I still remember running an 800 relay I think for my highschool at the big inter-school Track and Field Meet. I had started off and there were some strong runners that pealed of in front. I though, ok, there fast. There’s no chance I’ll catch up. I remember chatting on the track with a good friend of mine coming up the first long stretch of the oval trying to catch my breath. Then, I remember something inside of me, ok, I’m going to give this a go and looked straight ahead and mouthed to my friend (to be polite I guess), Ok, I’m going to take off now. Bye. And off I took with an energy and overtook a couple of packs on the corner, up the last stretch, overtaking another runner and ran like hell to the finish line! I cannot remember if I finished 1st or 2nd in that race – either finish was an accomplishment.

I loved soccer the most. Most of the girls I grew up with played softball. I am not sure why I was not attracted to this sport, but I think its had something to do with the fact that most of the girls enrolled in city softball lived in town, the same town where their fathers played ball a generation before. Girls soccer didn’t exist them so perhaps they were continuing the tradition. My parents shared they were quite strategic in placing us both in soccer (they are smart parents). Quite simply, it is the best sport for cardiovascular activity. I gotta say, I truly believe enrolling your children in sports from a young age is the very best thing you can do for them. It’s exercise, it works their bodies and lets them know they have bodies. It builds strength, self-esteem, friendships and respect. I could go on. I have never understood parents who come close to trying or try, only to respond with, “Jimmy doesn’t like it.” Well find Kimmy one sport that he does like. What happened to the ‘ol threat, “Well, you’re going to do it, and you’re going to like.” Children need a push from parents.

By the time I got out of playing with the boys I was playing Forward position, Left Wing. In my opinion, with the exception of “Striker, Sweeper” or Center Half, is the best position. We get to shoot on net, stay mostly on one ed of the field, and look really good assisting goals! (Shout-out to my Center who we often switched back and forth, Erin Hancock-Electirc!). Our team was good. Really good actually. For all coming from a small town, competing with the city teams and rivalling Nepean franchise with their matching nylon K-way windbreaker uniforms, we kicked ass. For many years, the semi and final would come down to neighbouring town Richmond Hill. It would even become a battle, 2 years for sure I know it came down to tie games, no goalies, and then a shoot out! The Dads loved it when it came down to this. It was like they were getting their male sportsman rivalry out through their daughters! I’m going to toot my team’s own horn. This is how good we were. One game was against our neighbouring province to Ottawa – Hull. These girls were mean. They were big, French, cursing and mean. They didn’t play fair. We played fair. I can still remembering them hollering across the fields to each other, “A la gauche! A la gauche Les filles, a la gauche!” Most of us were bilingual, but I though it was kind of funny, because it seemed they were trying to yell their simple French at us, but we knew exactly what they were saying! At the end of one game, their touch bald-headed Bruce Willis look-alike coach angrily approached the ref when the whistle was blown to announce the end of the game. His fist was punching the air, “Rematch, Rematch! We want a rematch!”. The coach thought we didn’t fairly win. Which is completely ridiculous. They were just being sore losers. We were laughing, enjoying the win and reacting in disbelief to his claims to the Referee. Especially to the referee who just finished calling the game. The Bruce Willis coach would not give up. The ref staked his claim,”It was a fair game. Game Over.” ‘Still, Bruce Willis was relentless. We were eating orange and dunking the orange thermos of water and ice all over one another as was custom. We had jut played a hard 2 hours in the dead heat of an Ottawa 40 degrees summer heat. We were pack’n up to go home. Next thing we know, out coach pipes up, “You want a rematch? Fine. My girls will beat you again. Right Now.” Insert record scratching noise here. “Hugh?” we gasped.This was on heard of. There are no “re-matches” in girls competitive soccer. God, are there anywhere?

Girls, you won the game, fair and square. This guy wants to question that. I have full confidence you wold win again.

“1st goal wins.” our coach says.

“Fine” says the french Bruce Willis coach.

We played again as night was falling. We scored in the first 5 minutes.

You’ll never believe it. The coach took another fit! “Rematch! Rematch!” he screamed. Flabbergasted faces dominoed through the team and crowd.

“Fine. Girls….”

We played again. And we scored again. And the Bruce Willis bald coach cried again. That was it though. Our coach and the referee drew the line.

We were a good team. Our winning treasure was our exceptional goalie (JP). She was fearless. She was tall and big-boned for our 15-18 year old bodies. She could stop a brick that changed direction at the last-minute. I know we always felt bad when our defence let the ball go past them, but I’m pretty sure we bowed our head and walked back to the center line, because she always stopped that ball. Hell, not only did she stop the ball, she scored for us one game from as near the center line as she could get on an open net. She had a hell of a kick. We one a lot of games with her shut outs.

I was the crosser, the passer, the assister. As left-wing, it’s your job to be where the ball is going to be before it is, pass it to the center who will take a shot on the net. Kinda Wayne Gretsky style. “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” ~ Walter Gretsky to Wayne Gretsky. It’s a glory role! Sometime, your switching back and forth, intermingling between the center and wing position depending on where the ball is. You have to have lot of stamina to run that much. I remember why I began to work out. It’s after I tore my ACL. It was a measly highschool game. I say measly because, my highschool team was ass. No one played competitively except maybe one other person, so my competitive league was where my passion was  and invested heart, blood sweat and tears. And the $80. it cost for enrollment. Heck, my entire competitive team came from our neighbouring separate school where as I was the only one usually from the catholic highschool playing on that team my entire child and teenagehood.

I’m just setting the scene. It was grade 12 and it was the semi final. Myself and a couple other girls mostly carried the game for the rest of the team. We could barely makeup for the rest of the team. It was a lot of hard work for little return. But it was good practice for the competitive season. My nickname on the competitive team donned my a trophy one year. “Team Terror.” I was tough. I was a little scrawny 5.5 tough gal. I ran like hell, battled but could hardly deke and I never gave up. My mother couldn’t come to the games. I’d be piercing down the wing, get pummeled by a girl double my size, roll it out through somersaults right back on to my feet again without flinching! She couldn’t stand to see what would happen at the end. I remember getting carded once. First time. A yellow card was flashed at me from the rep after the play had been stopped. I looked behind me.

No one was behind me except Mr.So and So and the field line.

“Are you looking at me ref?”

The red got angrier. Funny, I wasn’t copping attitude, I was genuinely asking in shock.

“Number 12. Keep you elbows in. Next time. You’re getting a red card and your out of the game.”

I felt horrible. I couldn’t believe whatever move I played was enough to get a yellow card. Only tough french butches and angry hill-billy brunettes ever got that card.

My arms  were glued to my sides the rest of the game.

I digress. Return now to the semi final highschool game that I didn’t care too much about. We were playing one of the city teams that coincidently two closer friends who I had worked with at camp were on. I was playing left-wing and I was trying to enlist my fellow forward to play tight to the center line when the ball wasn’t in our end to keep the defence moving forward. This facilitates a run-off between opposing forward and defence lines to run like hell for the ball nearing the net. On the opposing side, it also keeps the forwards away from the opposing net in order to avoid an offside. Very good tactics for both teams.

I’m tight on the center line when the ball get whipped into our end an nobody was there. Not even close. No defence nothing. One of their forwards was eyeing the ball and had a clear pathway to our goal. I was looking around and yelling at the defence.

“Who’s on her? Who’s on her? Get her.”

Noone was gaining speed on her at all.

“Fuck this shit!”

I ran from the opposite side of the field where I was meant to play and ran straight at her. She was just leaving the center line so I had a chance. I ran like a bat out of hell. I was still to far away from her to catch up enough to get the ball away from her. A strategic slide-tackle was the team’s only chance. A slide tackle sounds vicious and it can but it’s also the games allowable mode of defence that deliberate body attack  is tolerated. The idea is, the ball is getting attacked, not the person. Inevitably though, one of both players go down. It’s a ballsy move and you have to know that you are could be diving in the air and you’re going to hit the ground hard. There is no blow up mattress to cushion your fall. I eyed her positioning, dug into the ground hard, leapt up in the air high and swept my right leg under the ball under her feet.

“Clunk!” the ball deadlocked.

She was knocked over. My body fell on top of my left leg sideways.


I fell to the ground and rolled up onto my stomach. I was eating mudpacked dirt. Did I get  her? Has the play stopped? The play stopped. I was laughing in the dirt. The ref blew the whistle. Phew. Breakaway stopped.

“I think I heard a snap!” someone on the field hollers. Everyone came running over. My two friends from camp on the other team came over to.

“Does she always sound like this if she’s hurt?” the ref asked.

I was laughing. I was in shock.

My nickname at camp was, “Accident Prone Flood.”

“Yes, ref, she does. Kate you ok?”

I continued to giggle until I tried to get up. My left leg gave way beneath me. I was helped off the close end of the field and had to walk the long way around to where my coach and team was.

I sat off for 10 minutes and iced my knee.

“Coach! Coach. Put me back on coach. I’m ready. I’m fine now.”

“Hang on. Just wait. Hang on, Sit back until I call you.” my coach quipped, waving his arm backwards at me to sit down.

“Ok Kate, you’re on. Get out there. There’s only a few minutes left to the game.”

I ran back down the wing just in time with the ball in play coming to me. I had been on 10 seconds and was running down the wing looking for my teammate to pass it too. Then, I was down on the ground in a split second. I’d been hit. Barely a tap, and I was down for the count. She apologized (They do that in girls soccer). The girl had honestly ever so lightly tapped my left leg and I fell like dominoes to the ground. Highly uncharacteristic. I also couldn’t get back up to my feet this time. I dragged myself off the couple of feet to the sideline so the game could continue ball in play.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I shouldn’t have caved way so easily. Ever. I was a tiger on the field.

“Coach, I think something’s wrong.”

“Not now Kate. Game’s on. Tell me when the games over.”

I knew something was wrong even though I couldn’t figure it out. I went to the local Medical Clinic in town I had attended since childhood. We were at least a 45 minute drive to any emergency department so this clinic would act as emergency as it was only 5 minutes away. I told them something was really wrong. It was an emergency. They balked and asked if I had an appointment.

“No, did you not hear what I just said.”

My new doctor who I had seen for a few years saw me, said nothing was wrong, dismissed me and balked at me interrupting the line. She sent me for a referral and I waiting a while before seeing anyone.

In the meantime, my knee was constantly giving way on me, and I would collapse on the fly for no reason at all. I still remember walking into the busiest club in Hull for my highschool Prom – completely sober – and collapsing to the ground upon entering the club door. Everyone thought I had too much to drink when really, I had ye to find out I had torn my ACL in my left knee and could not support my body weight.

Oh and going to see the surgeon and O-D-ing on their post drug surgery narcotics is a story all in itself…..

Thanks for hanging on…
I’ve got surgery in 4 weeks so I have  been pre-occupied with healing…


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By Kate Flood
• Listening to: Dead Can Dance, Vino Rouge, by my fire….
State of Being: Getting my swing back and tolerating my upcoming surgery…