I’ve played competitive soccer since I was 7 years old and have been on the UChicago Women’s team for since my first year of college. Along the way, I’ve had my fair share of injuries – the most memorable was tearing my ACL (the dreaded surgery and 9-month recovery) during my senior year of high school which led to me redshirting my first year at UChicago.
During my second-year soccer season, I tore my meniscus during one of our fall practices. I won’t get into all the details but basically the injury required me to use crutches until surgery, get surgery, be on crutches for 6 weeks, and then do 3-6 months of physical therapy.
For some background, I live with some soccer teammates in an apartment about a 10-minute walk from the UChicago quad. It can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes to get to each of my classes and occasionally a bit longer if there’s snow. When I tore my meniscus, it was right before Thanksgiving and the weather was gradually turning from the falling of colorful leaves to the colder temperatures and ice which marked Chicago winters. For someone who would be using crutches for a total of 10 weeks, this was not the ideal situation to be in.
I was blessed that I was quickly connected with UChicago’s Student Disability Services (SDS). I spoke with a representative over the phone and then completed a form. From then on, every morning, the UChicago handicap van picked me up from my apartment and drove me to either the athletic training room at our gym or to my class. And after class, the van would pick me up and take me home. Having the vans made traveling so convenient and I was so grateful that UChicago offered this service.
While the SDS vans only ran during the normal workday, sometimes I found myself staying on campus after hours. To get back home, I downloaded the TransLoc app from the University Shuttles page on the Transportation website which allowed me to easily check the UChicago-specific shuttle routes and schedule. My apartment happened to be on one of the routes, so I was basically dropped off right outside my door every night! Even after I stopped using crutches, I found myself using this shuttle frequently during winter quarter when it was too cold or dark to make the trek back from the Reg.
UChicago made transportation easy, and my teachers also were very accommodating to my situation. I had been scared to tell my teachers that I would be missing classes (and my bio midterm) due to my surgery. I had ambitiously told my bio teacher that I would be able to take his final three days after my surgery, but when I inevitably told him that I was still recovering and on pain meds, he was flexible and scheduled a time for me to take it mid-week instead. He was incredibly understanding throughout the process, and we bonded over our shared appreciation for the sport. He also shared with me that he had injured himself playing soccer in the past. I had a similar experience with my math teacher whose class I had to miss on the Friday of my surgery, He was also a soccer player and I learned that the two of us played the same position.
Some words of wisdom: If you can avoid it, try not to get injured and have surgery two weeks before finals. But if you do, or if you find yourself in a similar situation, know that UChicago wants your success and will provide you with the resources you need to get back on your feet (literally!). Or if you manage to avoid injury, check out the University shuttles and other transportation options UChicago provides for its students, even if you aren’t crutching around, they definitely make getting around campus a lot easier!