By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Any athlete attempting to recover and return from a serious injury is always waiting for that one special moment that proves to themselves that they are truly back.
For Megan Schmidt, who tore the ACL in her left knee just days after the Falcons’ district-championship softball game in 2021, that moment happened on Monday, April 25, 2022.
As part of a 14-7 win over Springfield for the Falcons, Schmidt belted a ball so far over the team’s home fence that it bounced and hit the high school.
That home-run trot around the bases offered a moment of reflection for Schmidt.
Suddenly, she felt like her old self again.
Actually, like a better version of herself.
“I didn’t know that I had that kind of power,” Schmidt said. “That’s when it really hit me that I was back and maybe even better.”
Schmidt had lost her 2021 junior volleyball season, but her dedicated commitment to return to the game she loves, to the softball diamond, was constant motivation to keep progressing toward a spring return.
But not without a bit of shaken confidence.
“During my recovery process with my knee, I had constant self doubt,” Schmidt said. “My date to get cleared kept getting pushed back, the swelling kept getting worse and there were times when I felt like I would never get back to where I was.
“The swelling and clear date were not my fault, though,” Schmidt added. “Some people need a longer time to heal than others, and I struggled to accept that.”
By the time Schmidt returned to the diamond, though, it was like the injury had never happened.
She led the Falcons in 2022 in multiple categories, including a .461 average, 47 hits, eight doubles, nine home runs, 42 RBI and 26 runs scored.
At that point, the only lack of confidence belonged to opposing pitchers.
“Megan is one of the hardest-working individuals that I have seen,” Field softball head coach Beth Dyer said. “She doesn’t accept not being the best. Her work ethic has always stood out to me and her dedication to be the best is to be admired.”
And Schmidt is right back at it again this season for the 17-win, league-leading Falcons.
She is hitting .444, with 36 hits, nine doubles, five home runs, 35 RBI and 21 runs scored as one of the most feared hitters in the Metro Athletic Conference.
“I have seen Megan become more confident as a player and emerge as a fantastic leader,” Dyer said. “Hitting has always been her strength, but she has grown as a defensive player, too. She has made some tremendous plays over the years and has become one of the strongest second basemen around.”
Schmidt’s opportunity as a middle-infielder was the vision of Dyer and her father and assistant coach Bob Bauer.
That vision dates back to Schmidt’s sophomore season, when Dyer said she remembers first introducing the idea to her then-underclassmen standout. Dyer saw Schmidt’s intangibles and skill to play the position before she saw it in herself.
“She not played second base before, but she said she was willing to work hard to learn the position and was excited to try it,” Dyer said. “My dad and I knew she had the softball knowledge to play there. It was just a matter of her getting comfortable in a new position, and she put in the extra work to be successful.”
That extra work has forever been part of Schmidt’s daily routines.
Even when she was 5 years old, she can remember spending time playing catch with her father before school. It is when she first fell in love with the sport.
“Every day in the fall and spring, before school, my dad, brother rand I would play catch before I got on the bus to leave,” Schmidt recalled. “That was really a key moment that got me into the sport.”