BW Midfielder Lindsey Mikula Overcomes Injury Odds to Become a Key Player for the Yellow Jackets
By Leah Poiner ‘13
BEREA, OHIO -- Lindsey Mikula knows all too well just how much it takes to overcome obstacles and to be successful as a junior midfielder for the Baldwin Wallace University women’s soccer team. As a two-year letter winner, Mikula has become a crucial asset to the team.
But her success has not come without difficulty.
In 2005, during her freshmen year at Rocky River High School, Mikula strained the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee and three years later she completely tore the ACL ligament in her left knee. She was told she needed surgery and accepted this diagnosis with a positive attitude and received the surgery in January of 2009, just seven months before her career as a Yellow Jacket began. Unfortunately for Mikula, playing was not the same.
“When I injured my first ACL, I definitely changed my playing style because I wore a bulky brace that semi-restricted my abilities and the mobility of the knee,” said Mikula, who will lead the 11-7 overall Yellow Jackets into an Ohio Athletic Conference quarterfinal match tomorrow night (Tuesday, November 1, 2011) at OAC and Cleveland cross-town rival John Carroll University. “Despite the injuries, I knew that I wanted to attend Baldwin Wallace University, not only to study business administration, but to be a part of the Yellow Jacket soccer family.
“I wanted to keep playing soccer because it is a sport that I have loved since I was three years old,” continued Mikula. “It also helped to have great teammates who were very encouraging! One of the best reasons I kept playing soccer was because it is my escape from everything. I am always having fun playing soccer. It is an enjoyable sport and outlet and it just makes me happy!”
In August of 2009, Mikula started her career as a collegiate student-athlete and earned her spot as a starter for the Yellow Jackets.
“Lindsey is a very technical player who has a good understanding of the game. She is very versatile and can do a variety of things on the field for us,” said Yellow Jacket 10th-year Head Coach Reid Ayers.
Mikula Has Overcome Two Knee Injuries
To Be A Mainstay in BW Midfield
But seven games into her first season at BW, Mikula completely tore the ACL in her left knee against Case Western Reserve University and had to undergo surgery for the second time in one calendar year and causing her first season to end abruptly.
Despite her injury, Mikula did not lessen her commitment to her team and teammates.
“Lindsey brings a positive energy to the team. She truly believes in all of her teammates and is a big reason for our success,” said fellow teammate and junior Kristen Bushway.
With the help of her family and teammates taking care of her and lifting her spirits Mikula was able to rehabilitate her knee in hopes of returning to play as a sophomore. She was even able to work with other student-athletes who had suffered the same injury and work through the therapy together.
“The most important person I would say that guided me to overcome my injuries was our former assistant athletic trainer, Jason Cruickshank. He pushed me to become just as healthy and strong as I would be if I hadn’t had two knee surgeries,” said Mikula, who has played in 46 career matches, has taken 46 total shots, including 23 on-goal and has scored 10 career points. “I can honestly say that I would not have been as physically fit and ready to play my sophomore year if it weren’t for Jason.”
The Yellow Jacket Athletic training staff reconditioned Mikula and prepared her for her second season, just as they have done with many other student-athletes at the College. Mikula worked very closely with the staff to ensure that she would be able to return as a key member of the team.
“The athletic training staff here is second to none and its help, not only physically but emotionally, were critical in Lindsey overcoming her injuries,” said Ayers. “I think in many ways having to fight through adversity and really concentrating on regaining her fitness and getting stronger has made her a better player.”
When August of 2010 rolled around, Mikula was able to step back out onto Tressel Field at The George Finnie Stadium brace-free and as strong as ever.
“After I tore my second ACL and did physical therapy with Jason Cruickshank, he convinced me that I would be able to play without a brace and play with more confidence that way,” said a confident Mikula. “I took his advice!”
And play with more confidence she did.
During the 2010 season, Mikula played in and started all 21 games and recorded her first career and game-winning goal on September 5 at Penn State-Behrend University. She continued her success with the game-winning goal against BW’s traditional rival Hiram College three minutes into overtime. Overall, Mikula took a career-high 32 shots and tallied a total of four goals and one assist for nine points. She also had a team-high three game-winning goals overall.
Mikula’s sophomore season involved much more playing time, allowing her to show her true abilities and become one of the key players on the squad.
“She continually influences the team both on and off the field,” said Ayers. “She rarely has an off day and her contributions are significant to the team’s success.
“She enjoys being on the field and being with her teammates,” said Ayers. “That kind of enthusiasm and energy is contagious and is a tremendous benefit to the rest of the team.”
Lindsay Has Appeared In All 18 games
This Season With One Assist
Lindsey has been injury-free since the 2009 season and continues to have a major impact on the team and helping lead this year’s Yellow Jacket women’s soccer team into the OAC Tournament.
This season, as a junior, Mikula has played in all 18 games, taken 14 shots and recorded one assist for the Yellow Jackets. While playing injury free, she has certainly not forgotten the impact that her previous injuries had on her life.
“The biggest impact that these injuries have had on my life is to never take anything for granted because you never know how fortunate you are until it is gone,” said Mikula. I never knew how terrible it would feel to not be able to play soccer because I had never really been injured before. Not being able to play the sport you love for many months is the worst feeling to have, so enjoy every moment of it.”
As a Business Administration major Mikula recognizes how important being a student at Baldwin Wallace University is and how much the faculty on campus supports every organization on campus and strives to make sure each student gains the most from their experience as a Yellow Jacket.
“Alan Kolp has helped me the most with school and I know I can count on him to help me when I am in need. He supports our team as well as me in the classroom and comes to many of the games to cheer us on.”
Although not entirely sure what career path to take when she graduates, Mikula hopes to continue living her passion for the sport of soccer and be the coach for a soccer team, spreading her enthusiasm and positive energy throughout the world of soccer.
“Lindsey has had a solid junior season,” said Ayers. “The fact that she has been injury-free is key. She continues to be a player that has the talent and ability to help us both offensively on the field and via her leadership. We are just happy that she is healthy and continues to enjoy playing soccer every day. She is just a joy and inspiration to coach.”
With a victory at JCU, Mikula and the Yellow Jackets would advance to the OAC semifinals and play top-seed and regular season champion Ohio Northern University on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. The 2011 OAC Championship match is on Saturday, Nov. 5. The winner of the OAC Tournament receives the OAC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
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