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Colleen Farrell

Nothing's Going to Stop Her

Holy Name Orthopedic - Colleen Farrelle

Colleen Farrell helped lead her soccer team to the state sectional semi-finals, the first time her school was eligible to play in the competition. It was a dream come-true for the 17-year-old Holy Angels senior, and one she saw almost slip away a year prior.

It was the last soccer game of her junior year when Colleen, a forward, was injured and tore both her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus, a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion in the knee. She didn't know the extent of her injury for several weeks but once she found out, she was devastated.

"When I was told I needed surgery, I was so upset – I just kept crying," Colleen said. "Two friends had the same injury and they were out for a year. That meant I was going to miss playing my senior year."

The ACL connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) and is key in helping stabilize the knee. Athletes typically injure it during sports that require sudden stops and changes in direction. The meniscus is often torn from unusual pressure or rotation of the knee joint.

Dr. Raphael Longobardi, an orthopedic surgeon performed Colleen's surgery in mid-December at Holy Name. He explained exactly what would happen during the procedure – he would create a new ACL using another tendon below her kneecap – and fix her meniscus.

Everything went well with the surgery and only three days later, Colleen started physical therapy at Holy Name's Center for Physical Rehabilitation at HNH Fitness in Oradell. Physical therapy was tough, but the therapists knew Colleen wanted to get back on the field and did all they could to help her reach her goal.

"I was in a lot of pain but they needed to get me up and moving," Colleen said. "I had difficult but aggressive physical therapy, which was good because I was able to walk fairly quickly. Once I was walking, my therapist said I was on track to finish physical therapy by June and could be ready to start practice in August. Hearing that really helped and from then on I stopped crying and set my mind to it. Once I knew I had the ability to play, nothing was going to stop me."

Colleen went for physical therapy so consistently – three days a week from December through June – that she formed relationships with members of the staff.

"The staff was always so nice, asking me about my day, how school was going," Colleen said. "I made connections with them. They made me feel like I was a person to them, not just a job. It was just a very supportive place to be."

By early June, Colleen was running. Two weeks later she started drills, focused on Sept. 4 – her first game – and was cleared to play the day before. Her hard work and personalized rehabilitation paid off – she scored her first goal of the season that game and went on to be the captain and team's leading goal scorer for the year. Topping off her achievements – she made First Team All Division.

"I'm so happy I was able to end my school soccer experience on such a high," Colleen said. "I'm hanging up my cleats – I might play club ball in college but I won't be playing for any school – I'm just so happy and grateful my last season was my best. Holy Name's physical therapy got me where I wanted to be."

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