Fifth-year forward Jackie Krostek refused to be hindered by her knee injury.
“I have no fear in my knee,” Krostek said. “I don’t even think about it when I’m playing. I guess people normally should. I’m trying to be like an Adrian Peterson. I’m just going to be like a bull in a china shop.”
Knee surgery forced Krostek to miss every game this season, but after months of rehabilitation, she was able to make her debut on Senior Day and now has a chance to salvage her final season.
“Hopefully she can help us the rest of the season,” coach Seamus O’Connor said. “She’s a real good player, real quality player. If we can sneak her back for a couple of games, a playoff game, that would be a big boost.”[blockquote who=”Jackie Krostek” what=”forward”]This is the last time I’ll get to play this level of soccer, compete at this level with a purpose, with the team.[/blockquote]
On Oct. 20, Temple loss its Senior Day game to Cincinnati 2-1. The game was Temple’s final home game of the year, but it was also Krostek’s first start and first minutes of playing time since last year.
Prior to the game against Cincinnati, Krostek was inactive for every game this season due to a torn ACL. This wasn’t the first time in her career that she was physically unable to play for large stretches of time.
In her junior year, Krostek also suffered a torn ACL in the Owls’ first game of the season against Iona. Sidelined by the knee injury, Krostek was redshirted in 2011, granting her an extra season of eligibility.
Krostek recovered from surgery in time for the 2012 season, where she played in 14 games, but she would face yet another setback. In a conference match against St. Bonaventure, Krostek not only tore her ACL, but also damaged her meniscus, sidelining her once again.
“There were definitely days when I was pessimistic about the situation,” Krostek said. “Maybe I should just give it up. Maybe I should just stop and realize I have the rest of my life to deal with this knee.”
“But it’s hard for me to just walk away when I know I have just a little bit left,” Krostek added. “This is the last time I’ll get to play this level of soccer, compete at this level with a purpose, with the team. I love the team. I love Temple soccer. I think I would regret it more not playing than if I play and then got hurt again.”
As one of Temple’s few veteran presences, Krostek said that although she could not physically take the field, she found ways to assist her teammates.
“You feel like part of the team, but it’s hard because you’re not contributing,” Krostek said. “My biggest thing, being the 12th man on the bench, is that whether we’re up or we’re down, whether we’re winning or we’re losing, I have to try to keep encouraging the girls. This whole season I’ve just tried to look at the glass as half full.”
Determined to return to the soccer field, while her teammates battled without her, Krostek spent her time rehabbing the injured knee with one goal in mind: playing on Senior Day.
“I made sure I was in there five days a week, doing what my trainer told me to do,” Krostek said.
“From what I saw in August to now, it’s such a huge improvement,” O’Connor said. “It comes down to determination. She’s just been working hard. She never, ever quit. She just put in work and put in more work.”
Months of rehabilitation and treatment paid off for Krostek as she made her final appearance at the Ambler Sports Complex, donning her No. 8 Owls jersey and celebrating her journey with her family and friends.
“Senior Day is going to be the most special day of your college career,” Krostek said. “I’m emotional just thinking about it now. My goal was to play Senior Day, and the fact that I got to my __goal, put in all that hard work, I’m able to play these last games.”
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.