By Matt Lindner @mattlindner
1:19 PM CDT, October 19, 2012
After tearing both of her ACLs during high school soccer games on May 3 in consecutive years, River North's Ashley Neiman said she takes extra precaution on that particular day each year.
"I stay in bed on May 3rd now," the 24 year old said.
Torn ACLs aren't just limited to high-level athletes. Weekend warriors suffer from them as well, on the intramural fields and in everyday life, and far more frequently than their headline-making professional athlete counterparts.
Wicker Park's Scott Sandalow, 25, has torn his left ACL not once but twice, first in 2005 and again in 2007, both times when he was playing softball.
"The first time I was in center field trying to catch a ball, the shortstop called me off, I stepped in a divot between the infield and outfield and I heard a pop," he said. "The second time, I was in between a slide and a run at home. I kind of did the in-between and just kind of buckled as I was crossing home plate. The second time I was a little bit more aware as I was walking off the field that I had torn my ACL."
Sandalow said the first time it happened to him, he felt a pain unlike any other.
"The first few seconds of it were indescribable," he said. "You heard it pop, then you felt pain that's just indescribable. You didn't know it was as severe as it was. The flash of pain was more than the lingering affect of it."
Five years after tearing his ACL a second time, Sandalow maintains an active intramural schedule, including playing kickball in the fall.
"Intramurally I can still do the things I want to do," he said. "I can play tennis; I can play kickball, not as good as I did before, but enough to get by. I don't know how it's gonna be for the next 10 to 15 years, but at least for now, I can be at a competition level."
Neiman said despite the fact that she feels even stronger now than she did before her consecutive ACL injuries, visions of a third catastrophic injury linger in the back of her mind even though it's been six years since her most recent tear.
"I think you'll always have that," she said. "I try and push it out of my mind, but the truth is you DO think about it ... it makes you second-guess yourself but I try not to be reckless and just be smart. There's only so much you can do to prevent that kind of injury. "
Northwestern's Mike Trumpy may not have enjoyed the grueling rehabilitation process, but for Neiman and Sandalow, that was the best part.
"I got to do stuff that I had never really done," Sandalow said. "If you're not going to have to worry about making the starting roster for someone, enjoy the uniqueness of rehab and building muscles that you wouldn't normally have the access to build. It's surprising how much better you feel after doing a squat or moving a chair with your legs and you'll eventually get back to where you need to be."
"It was cool to see your progress and challenge yourself," Neiman added. "Also, being an athlete and an active person, I loved all of the exercises and being challenged. I was competitive even in physical therapy."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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