A February snow day was a perfect opportunity for Claire Risley and her friends to go skiing at Perfect North Slopes.
The day would end far from perfect for Risley, however. She tore the ACL in her right knee, causing her to miss her spring club soccer season and the beginning of her junior season at Columbus North.
“I was really upset,” Risley said. “My sister (Emma) had just went through the same thing, and I saw how big an impact it was on her. So I was really nervous going into surgery. But after a few months of recovery, I started to feel a lot better and more confident about playing this season.”
Emma Risley tore her ACL playing club soccer the spring before her senior season. She was able to play for the Bull Dogs only at the end of a couple of blowout wins last year.
But Emma, who had committed to University of Indianapolis before the injury, is back to full strength and playing for the Greyhounds.
“She was helpful when I was kind of down that day,” Claire Risley said. “I’ve seen how big her comeback was. It was an inspiration to me. If she could do it, I could do it, too. We could relate to each other.”
Following her March 25 surgery, Claire Risley went to physical therapy with Nate Frasier at MVP three days a week throughout the spring. Then in the summer, she went to see either Frasier or North trainer Steve Souder every day.
“I feel a ton stronger after going through this process with both of them,” Claire Risley said. “I think they both helped me in so many different ways.”
Claire Risley made her season debut Sept. 9 against Southport, playing about 20 minutes at the end of a 5-0 victory.
“After being out for so long, it was amazing to finally be playing again, even if it was only for 20 minutes,” Claire Risley said. “I felt a lot better than I expected. I kind of forgot I had torn (the ACL) and tried to play as normal as I could.
“I’m working on my confidence going in for a 50-50 tackle,” she said. “I’m kind of nervous. I don’t want to hit it weird or anything.”
North coach Derek Stewart is looking forward to possibly having Claire Risley able to play more minutes later in the season.
“It would be good for us,” Stewart said. “She’s a very good player. We’ll give her time to heal and make sure she comes back when she’s ready. She’s a very skillful player, and we look forward to her return.”
After the high school season, Claire Risley plans to play club soccer for the Alliance, a combination of talent from the Columbus Express, Center Grove and Bloomington clubs. She is undecided about whether she will try to follow in her sister’s footsteps and play in college.
“I hope that this doesn’t affect me at all,” Risley said. “I want to come back stronger and play better than before. I don’t want this to be any type of setback for me.
“I worked really hard to get released to play this season, and I want to help my team out,” she said. “I just hope I’ll get to play some more this season.”
Conference Indiana soccer tournaments
Saturday at Karst Park, Bloomington
Girls Championship bracket
Match 1: Perry Meridian vs. Bloomington South, 1 p.m.
Match 2: Terre Haute North vs. Columbus North, 1 p.m.
Match 5: Match 1 loser vs. Match 2 loser, third place, about 5 p.m.
Match 6: Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner, championship, about 5 p.m.
Boys Championship bracket
Match 1: Columbus North vs. Bloomington North, about 3 p.m.
Match 2: Bloomington South vs. Perry Meridian, about 3 p.m.
Match 5: Match 1 loser vs. Match 2 loser, third place, about 7 p.m.
Match 6: Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner, championship, about 7 p.m.