Bump in the road

Sophomore tears ACL during tryouts for national team


Andrew Hager

Sophomore Cambry Patrick got into the U17 national team, tore her ACL shortly after. Patrick is working hard to heal as fast as possible to get back to what she loves.

It happened in a scrimmage on Feb. 13. The first out of two they have every week during the February training camp for the Youth National Team (YNT). Cambry Patrick focused while the swarm of girls in bibs raced and battled out for the black and white ball. Halfway through the game, she sprints up to a girl and sticks her feet in the ground to defend the goal. Except, Patrick’s knee went one way as she went the other. Patrick tore her ACL. 

At the camp, they select who will be on the U17 National Team and play to win the Youth Summit Team World Cup in India during October. Because of her injury, Patrick won’t make the final travel team roster.

“It’s doing a lot better than it was the day after or even the day of,” Patrick said. “The swelling has gone down a lot. We went to the doctor to schedule my day for surgery, and they gave me a few exercises to do to strengthen my quads and everything. After I have my surgery, it’s not as painful and the rehab can start quicker and feel better. But it’s doing okay right now.”

After she was injured, a YNT coach informed her that she would have made the team and been on her way to the Dominican Republic for the 2022 Concacaf U-17 Women’s Championship. The championship takes place on April 23 to May 8 where the team could qualify for the World Cup.

“That was very nice to hear when I was in a very dark situation,” Patrick said. “The last thing anyone wants to hear is that you’re injured and out for that long, but it was very reassuring for her to tell me that because it made me feel good. It’s kind of hard to know that I was going to travel with the team and re-live my dream, but it’s okay like it’s a nice thing to hear when I am hurt.”

Patrick will need ACL reconstruction surgery where they take parts of her patella to reconstruct her ACL. She will be out for at least six months. 

“Right now I do them [knee exercises] two to three times a day,” Patrick said. “It’s very simple, basic stuff to get my knee moving and my legs to keep working. It’s a lot of flexing of my quads so that my knee is getting action. [The exercises are] trying to pull [my ACL] down because right now it’s dense. They gave some simple stuff to help it before surgery. After surgery, I’ll be going to PT, and they’ll be giving me different exercises to work on. Eventually, I’ll start being able to incorporate more movement.”

Prior to her injury, Patrick’s first round of camps for the national team took place in the October training camp, followed by the November training camp.

“It’s very fast-paced,” Patrick said. “We work for a short amount of time, and then we get a quick break to really catch our breath and figure out what we can improve on. Then we go back and start again. We have certain principles we focus on for attacking and defending. Each day we would just go out and focus on that principle. It was our shape and keeping possession of the ball with transition. It was dependent on what we were working on for that day.”

Patrick practices with her club team two to three times a week and with the school team every day. She also does technical training and fitness on her own during the week.

“When I was younger, they had local regional camps with people from local clubs that were part of the U.S. organization,” Patrick said. “I got invited to my first camp in October. I believe that they just kept watching me like there would be scouts in my game, watching and depicting my play. They would watch me throughout the years and at those camps before, they would also take my play into consideration. I think all the watching, coming to the games, going to those previous camps is what invited me back to the camp in October as well as my coaches and head director of my club’s recommendation.”

After middle school, Patrick gave up track, cross country and basketball to focus on soccer.

“It was an amazing feeling because I felt really accomplished for everything I’ve done throughout the years,” Patrick said. “I’ve put a lot of time into soccer. It’s been hard because I’ve had to make difficult decisions throughout the years like dedicating a lot of my time to the game. It’s really reassuring to be invited. It’s every little girl’s dream to be on that team, if you play soccer, like you want to wear the crest so badly, so it was a really cool feeling and experience.”

School soccer coach, Ian Keeble, watched Patrick grow from last year.

“I think the nine-month process of having the surgery, going through everything you have to go through to recover and be back running and playing soccer,” Keeble said. “She has all the qualities it takes to get over something like that: toughness. Now, she has big goals and in order to achieve those goals, she’s gonna have to put in the work. It’s not going to be fun, but I can’t think of anybody else who’s going to be better at it than her.”

When Patrick was five, she began playing soccer with her best friend and freshman, Kiera Watson, on Watson’s dad’s recreational team.

“I would always text and FaceTime her while she was at the camps and ask how it was going,” Watson said. “Then when I texted her while she was a the recent camp and she said ‘actually, it’s not going that good I hurt my knee and have to come home early when she said that I was really nervous because her biggest fear is tearing her ACL – not heights or spiders – it was tearing her ACL. When I found out she hurt it, I was crushed for her. I have tried to be there for her in the best way I can to help her through this tough journey. I will be by her side for whatever is to come.”

Patrick plays on the Solar club soccer team where she is a defender; she also plays in school soccer as a forward. 

“It’s really hard because it’s my passion or my thing,” Patrick said. “I love it so much, and it’s a thing that I just think about constantly. It’s gotten me so far. Right now, I’ve just accomplished so many things, and it’s reassured my love for the game. It’s really hard not to be able to go out, get better and improve as a player. I’ve been able to think about it and collect what’s happening. I’m gonna use it as motivation to keep working hard, and I’m gonna try to come back better than I am now.”