Making a comeback with Breanna Allison
Most athletes will tell you that they are willing to sacrifice anything for their sport; they put their bodies and minds on the line every day either for glory, sheer love of sport, or both. But what about when disaster strikes? What about when the sport you love causes you to sit on the sidelines? For X-Women Rugby Fullback Breanna Allison, this is exactly what happened.
Allison, whose friends and teammates call her “Bre”, has been a starter for StFX since her first year in 2013. Now in her third year, Bre has been sidelined with an injury expected to keep her off the field for at least a year. In a game against the UPEI Panthers early in the 2015 season, Bre was playing her usual position of fullback at number 15 on the field. It was a perfect day for rugby, with a few clouds and no wind, and the X-Women were set to win their first game of the season. Unfortunately, a few minutes into the second half Bre was forced to make a try-saving tackle. While it was spectacular to watch from the sidelines (Bre absolutely flattened the opposing player), on the field it was a different story: “I knew something was wrong right away, “says Allison, “But to be honest I didn’t think it was too serious. It just looked swollen right away, so I assumed that when the swelling went down I would be back on the field”.
The injury would prove to be a fully torn right ACL, an injury that is becoming increasingly common in female athletes. Bre says she was surprised when she got the results of her MRI back, saying “I didn’t hear the snap or the pop or anything they say happens when you tear your ACL. I really didn’t think it was serious”. After a three month wait to see a surgeon, the tear was finally repaired. Then came rehab. For another three months Allison was limited to using crutches to get around the icy StFX campus, an unfortunate impediment given the timing of the injury.
Allison says she is excited to get back on the field, but also “incredibly nervous.” She explains “I feel like I’m starting at ground zero. Now that I can slowly start training again I am so far behind my other teammates. I only just got cleared to run again.” Bre adds however that this has become her main source of motivation: “I want to get back on that field and back in a jersey” and she says she will to anything it takes to get there.
The X-Women broke a 17-year championship winning streak this year, losing the AUS title at home to Acadia. Allison says that she is “anxious to get back and help [her] teammates take back the title.” But the effects of the injury are more than physical, there is a mental side as well. Bre worries that her injury will make her hesitate more on the field: “Once I get past the first tackle it will be fine. But that first one will be tough. I need to know my body can handle it again. As soon as that first tackle is over I know I will be more than ready, it’s just more motivation to get back.”
Recovery can be frustrating, but Bre is thankful that she has her teammates for motivation and support, and adds that she is doing everything in her power to get back to training camp in August, and on the field for her fourth, and maybe even final year of rugby as an X-Woman. At the end of the day, having a positive attitude about the process and the prospect of returning to play is what keeps Bre working hard. “I still don’t know if I’m coming back for a fifth year,” she says, “but I do know that I’m not done yet. We have another championship to win.”