Field hockey: Freshman Dani Batze returns after ACL injury

Dani Batze missed her senior season after tearing her ACL.

Freshman midfielder Dani Batze dribbles up the field in the Owls’ 4-1 loss to St. Joseph’s on Aug. 25 at Howarth Field. | JAMIE COTTRELL / TTN FILE PHOTO

Dani Batze’s body went left, but her knee stayed right.

She intercepted a pass during a preseason scrimmage last August and moved upfield on the counterattack. As she dribbled, she got sandwiched between two players and lost her balance.

Batze tore her right ACL and had to miss her senior season. Her chance of helping Pocomoke High School repeat as a state champion in Maryland was gone.

It took a couple of weeks for the fact she’d miss her senior season to sink in, and she was in a total state of shock. Batze found it “hard to see the good in the situation at first,” she said.

It wasn’t easy sitting on the sidelines unable to play the game she loves, she said. But the time away from the field gave her a new perspective and helped her learn the tactical aspects of field hockey.

She signed her national letter of intent to Temple in November and went through a five-phase rehabilitation program. The freshman midfielder played 58 minutes in her debut on Friday and made a defensive save in Temple’s 4-1 loss to St. Joseph’s. She played 43 minutes in Sunday’s loss against Bucknell University.

“It took a lot of time and effort and energy every day,” Batze said. “I worked to get better, and I went to rehab every day for two hours. And I worked every day, but eventually it all paid off.”

Now, about 10 months after undergoing surgery and going through rehab, Batze said her knee is feeling strong and healthy.

The phases of rehab included regaining motion in her knee by riding a bike and doing leg raises and stretches; working on squats, lunges and strengthening her hamstrings and quads; doing athletic exercises like running on an anti-gravity treadmill and working on quick movements like cutting, pivoting and jumping.

After completing the five-phase program, Batze said she continued additional rehabilitation with her high school trainer before joining the Owls at the end of June.

Batze, who had verbally committed to Temple prior to her injury, said she’s grateful coach Marybeth Freeman honored her offer and decided to keep her on the team.

Batze committed to Temple because she thought it would be the best place for her to mature both athletically and academically.

“Dani is extremely hardworking, there’s no doubt about it, coming back from an injury like an ACL,” Freeman said. “She’s been very diligent in her rehab and knowing Dani’s character, I wasn’t assuming anything less from her. And I’m just so proud of her and how hard she’s worked to put her in position to be here back with us now.”

In 2015, Batze was named to the all-state first team. She was also a two-time first team all-conference selection and a Junior Olympian in 2014 and 2015.

She was a National Future Championship player in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and was also named to Max Field Hockey’s 2017 list of top recruits. With the success she experienced in high school, Batze and her new coaches are hopeful she’ll return to the field better than before.

Batze said she can bring a high level of energy to the team and hopes to continue getting better in all aspects of the game, particularly at working on and off the ball, which would allow her to remain effective on offense even when she doesn’t have possession.

“She’s very technically savvy,” Freeman said. “Her skill sets are fantastic. They are very much elevated from a freshman’s perspective. So she’s coming in at a very high level.”

Batze is looking forward to putting her injury behind her and beginning her journey at Temple.

“Just being able to step on the field every day is the highlight of my day,” Batze said.

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