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‘I can set new goals’: JMB athlete finds new route after injuries derail soccer career – Delmarva Daily Times

‘I can set new goals’: JMB athlete finds new route after injuries derail soccer career – Delmarva Daily Times
05 Aug
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The James M. Bennett baseball team won its first state title in seven years, defeating C. Milton Wright, 5-3. Richard Pollitt, Salisbury Daily Times

Madison Synowiec wakes up every morning to an inspirational message posted on her wall.

The words read, “You’re too smart, too talented and too fun to watch for you to stop. Be in the moment. Dominate the day.” It came from an email sent by Salisbury University women’s soccer coach Kwame Lloyd.

He reached out following Synowiec’s third knee surgery that ultimately ended the rising senior’s soccer career. As a midfielder for the James M. Bennett girls soccer team, she was selected to the all-conference first team in 2018 and helped the Clippers win the Bayside Championship.

But the 2018 season would be her last, as doctors told Synowiec following her surgery in March the risk of further injury was too great. If she wanted full mobility of her left leg in the future, contact sports would have to be put to the side.

Dating back to February 2017, Synowiec has since suffered multiple ACL and meniscus tears in her left leg. The injuries left her with just one full season of high school soccer and countless hours of physical therapy.

Synowiec loves soccer, kicking a ball since she could first walk due in part to her parents’ background in the sport. But she understood her future would be more important than a few extra years on the field.

Instead, Synowiec had taken another route, one that allows her to compete and showcase her talents.

The rising senior will begin to participate in triathlons and also hopes to join Bennett’s cross country team in the fall.

She said giving up soccer was one of the hardest moments of her life, but as she moves forward, Synowiec is focused on what’s ahead and proving she has the athletic ability to compete with the best.

“Even if I can’t play soccer, I just have to take it day by day and realize there’s other things that I can do,” she said. “I can set new goals that I can push toward. I was just glad to have the one good season and the time I had playing soccer.”

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Synowiec began her soccer career with the Salisbury Football Club before traveling over the bridge to try out for Maryland United when she was in seventh grade. Part of the Elite Clubs National League – one of the top female leagues in the country – the midfielder was able to grow her skills as she prepared for the high school level.

Before hitting a prep field, Synowiec reached out to college coaches, and received interest from Division I programs and looked on track to have a long future in soccer.

She stayed with Maryland United through eighth grade, driving over the bridge twice a week in preparation for games on the weekend.

Then, Synowiec suffered her first injury.

During an indoor game, she planted her foot, made a turn and immediately knew something was wrong. A month later, Synowiec went through surgery and spent her freshman season in recovery.

Once the doctors signed off on her progress, Synowiec was prepared to play, taking the practice field one day before she was slated to play in game action. 

But as she reached for the ball, she felt a similar pain, tearing her medial meniscus. Another surgery for a full repair kept Synowiec again on the sidelines, but she remained optimistic about suiting up for the Clippers.

“There’s always going to be adversity, there’s always going to be challenges, but it’s about what you make of it,” she said.

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After another several months of recovery, Synowiec finally accomplished her goal and took the field for Bennett in 2018. She helped the Clippers to an undefeated regular season record which included nine shutouts. The team also averaged more than six goals a game.

Earning a first-round bye in the 3A state tournament, Bennett took down teams like Stephen Decatur and Chesapeake before falling to Mt. Hebron in the regional championship, ending the season.

But midway through the year during a practice, Synowiec again felt a pain in her left knee, but pushed through to complete the season.

Following the playoff loss, the junior had an MRI that revealed her meniscus had torn again. Her third surgery took place in March, removing part of the cartilage.

She was told her ACL was too stretched out and unstable, running the risk of further injury or permanent damage.

As she drove home with her mother, Synowiec finally came to the realization that her soccer career was in the past.

“I obviously don’t want to lose this, but I want to be smart,” she said. “This isn’t everything in life. It was really emotional, and it took a while to really accept that. Going from something I did everything single day to now … it was tough.”

Once she put soccer to the side, Synowiec began researching triathlons and looking for other athletic activities. 

Her father is a major tri-athlete who has competed in world championships. Synowiec had also competed in mini-triathlons as a kid.

Between swimming, biking and running, she hopes to continue her athletic drive but in a new environment.

“I’ve mostly done sprint distance triathlons, and I’ve got one planned for September, so that’s what I’m training for right now,” Synowiec said.

In preparation for the events, she began training with Cody Revel of The Athlete Academy, who said others can’t even pick up on Synowiec’s injury history. She works harder than most and always pushes herself to do whatever any other athlete does. 

“She realizes this is the hand that was dealt, and she’s going to live with it,” Revel said. “There’s no complaints — let’s just get after it. I think that’s awesome and really speaks to a higher level. She’s going to keep working to make herself better.”

When the Bennett soccer team takes the field in 2019, Synowiec will be in a familiar spot — watching from the side.

But now accepting what’s happened, she’s ready to take the next step and find a new activity to enjoy.

Soccer may not be Synowiec’s future, but it also won’t be what defines her as an athlete.

“Every time I injured myself, I had the mindset, ‘I’m going to get back,’” she said. “I always imagined myself playing college soccer, but then obviously this happened. I mostly have to focus on other things now to keep me distracted from soccer.

“But that’s alright.”

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Source: https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/sports/2019/08/05/jmb-athlete-finds-new-route-after-injuries-derail-soccer-career/1899113001/

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