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Waterloo’s Kaira English perseveres through knee surgery, recovery

Waterloo’s Kaira English perseveres through knee surgery, recovery


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


In many ways, senior seasons are supposed to be filled with celebrations, crowning moments and goodbyes.

For Waterloo’s Kaira English, her goodbye came sooner than expected.

And it shaped a senior season that was considerably different than she could have expected.

Absent of soccer.

Absent of basketball.

One of Portage County’s most prolific athletes was sidelined for her entire senior season after tearing her ACL and meniscus at a Nike College ID soccer camp on Aug. 3.

“I planted my foot and my cleat got stuck in the turf,” English said. “My foot stayed in one place and my body went to a different place. I knew immediately that it was a different kind of injury.”

Sitting on the sideline of the camp, English said it began to sink in that the final year of her high-school career had just been taken away.

Surgery immediately followed, and English has been on a long road to recovery ever since.

Both physical and mental, with the latter being the most emotionally draining.

“Having to just sit there and watch has been terrible,” English said. “I wanted to be playing so bad. I wanted to be there with my teammates so bad.”

For English, last fall was the first time she had not played a soccer season since she was 3 years old.

Even after not playing a single game her senior season, English finishes her career as Portage County’s all-time girls soccer goals leader. She scored 145 goals through her first three seasons with the  Vikings, netting 39 as a freshman, 54 as a sophomore and 52 as a junior. 

The 145 goals ranks 11th all-time in Ohio history.

The all-time career record in Ohio is 192, which was set by St. Clairsville’s Jaclyn Dutton (2006-09).

English may not have played a game for the Vikes in 2023, but she was there for her teammates the entire way.

“I went to all of the practices I could and it felt good to be there in that environment with my friends,” said English, who will continue her career at Walsh University. “I wished I could be playing, but being at the practices and games with them was still the best for me. I still felt like I was part of the team.”

Meanwhile, she was learning how to walk again.

English’s surgeon repaired her ACL and meniscus ligament with the use of a hamstring graft. A week after surgery, English began one-hour long physical therapy sessions.

For an athlete used to her body responding with ease, English said she found the sessions to be “very frustrating.”

“At the beginning, it was a slow process. I had to work on just getting my leg to be straight. Then it was working on strength, balance and boring stuff, but I knew it was important.

“One day would go really well, but then the next session I would not be able to do what I did the last time. There were so many highs and lows. I would be doing really well for a while, then I would be really sore and it would be very irritating.”

While her body was recovering physically, English was recovering mentally.

“I had to teach m myself to have confidence in my body again.”

While English’s 2023-24 basketball season may have been a distant thought to begin with, her slow recovery process ended any hope of getting onto the court to close out a career that included multiple all-league and all-district honors, as well as being on pace to score 1,000 career points.

Eight months to the day from the initial injury, English is more like herself.

More intense workout sessions began, in stages, around December — and she has continued to take strides toward a full recovery ever since.

“What is most important now is getting my full strength back,” English said. “I lost a lot of muscle in my quad, so I am working out every day to stretch and strengthen it a lot.”

English said she feels mentally stronger after persevering through so much adversity.

“My injury happened out of nowhere. It was a reminder to not take anything for granted. It makes me want to work harder, because I know I can come back from this stronger than ever. And I am going to work harder than ever.”

For the celebrations.

For the crowning moments.

For the opportunity to say hello to sports again.

1 Comment

  1. Mike Gut April 3, 2024

    That’s a bad dude there!!


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