For a collegiate athlete, staying healthy is one of the hardest feats to accomplish. Injuries bring mental, emotional and physical hardships that can’t be explained until they are overcome with resilience.
“A year without soccer was one of the most difficult things I had to do. Watch my roommates go to practice, and leave for games knowing I couldn’t be apart of it,” said junior forward Dianna Connor of the women’s soccer team. Connor suffered several tears in both of her hip labrum’s during her freshman campaign.
Connor, a native of Effort, Pa., chose to complete her undergraduate degree in five years to fulfill the year of eligibility she did not use due to nursing her hips back to health. It wasn’t just about competing for herself, Connor wanted to gain another year to compete alongside her teammates.
“Having another year to be apart of something so great makes me truly so grateful,” Connor said.
Although the year off devastated Connor, it bought her time to reflect and forge purpose from her struggle.
“The year off really helped me get my mind in the right spot, I was able to really do some self searching and figure out what I wanted,” said Connor.
Connor soon realized that in order for her to compete at the highest level, she would have to remain patient and refer to fundamentals.
“For my body, I let everything heal that was put through a lot over the past years, and it was kind of like starting over. I retrained my body the right way and treated it the way it needed to be treated in order to stay healthy,” Connor said.
Connor used the focus she demonstrated on the soccer field and harnessed that focus towards new experiences. Overcoming her injury has changed her.
“It really helped me in the classroom, to boost my GPA and be apart of different things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had practice or games.” Connor said.
Head Coach of the women’s soccer team, John Sumoski, was impressed with the grit Connor displayed.
“Dianna has taken a lot of time and care to come back to full strength. For a college athlete with a four-year clock, it’s a difficult thing to deal with and it involves a good blend of patience and persistence at the right times and I think she’s handled this part very well,” Sumoski said.
Connor, a sports management major, returned to the field in the fall of 2015 and assisted in leading the team to a runner-up finish in the 2015 MAC Championships. Connor’s hip injuries strengthened her resolve and made her approach her training with a sense of humility and gratitude.
“I never walk in the weight room, the locker room or on the field and take it for granted. On days I drag or have a negative attitude, I remind myself what I’ve been through. I remember why I love the sport so much and how it felt to have it ripped away from me. I never take a minute with my team for granted.”
Connor is excited to continue to develop as an athlete and hopes to help lead her team to another MAC Championship final berth.
“I saw how much I’m capable of my freshman year after stepping up during games and also receiving MAC freedom conference player of the week, and I know I have grown into a better athlete so I hope to break some of my boundaries and keep growing as an athlete here at Wilkes,” Connor said.