From a high school soccer standpoint, Emma Risley’s torn ACL and meniscus couldn’t have come at a much worse time.
The Columbus North senior did have better timing in making her college decision, however. She accepted a scholarship offer from University of Indianapolis in May, about two weeks before she learned she would have to undergo surgery that would sideline her for the high school season.
“I think that’s been helping me through this because I know that I can still play more,” Risley said. “It’s not over after this season. If I would have gone through this injury and not have committed, I would have realized that I would want to play really bad.”
Risley has been a standout defensive midfielder for the Bull Dogs the past two years. She netted three goals while handling a lot of defensive responsibility last season, her second as a starter.
“It’s a big loss,” North coach Derek Stewart said. “Emma has been one of our strengths. She played kind of as a holding mid for us and did an excellent job, so she’s going to be sorely missed.”
While playing for the Columbus Express this spring, Risley originally thought she tore her right ACL, but was told by doctors that it could be a pulled hamstring. She returned to the field a couple weeks later, and her knee gave out.
Risley first had meniscus surgery and then ACL surgery in July.
“It’s tough because I was really excited to play this season,” Risley said. “I set a lot of goals for myself.”
Since the surgeries, Risley has been undergoing rehab with Dr. Nate Frasier at Maximum Velocity Performance (MVP) in Columbus.
“They say I’m coming back faster than normal and that I look really good,” Risley said.
This is the second time in three years that the Bull Dogs have lost one of their top senior players to an ACL injury. Two years ago, Morgan Proffitt, who is now a sophomore at Marquette, missed all but the last week of the regular season.
“It’s unfortunate that the kids have to go through that,” Stewart said. “But we do what we can, and we have a lot of players we can put in different roles. You feel for the kids that are out, but they come back usually a little bit stronger.
“It takes a lot of time sometimes, but in Emma’s situation, I think she’s recovering well,” he said. “She’s working hard and I think a little bit ahead in progress. We’re all thinking about her and hope that she recovers soon.”
Like Proffitt did in 2012, Risley hopes to return by the sectional.
“We’re not counting on it,” Stewart said. “She might make a showing on senior night for a few minutes or something like that.”
Risley is a little more optimistic. She will start running in a couple weeks.
“I’m hoping,” Risley said. “It’s a possibility.”