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  • Matt Ondesko

Bouncing back

by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor

Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union

Players want to play. It’s why they put in the time, and effort, every day to get better. They don’t want to be on the sidelines not playing. They don’t want to be a cheerleader.

That’s why when injuries occur, a lot of athletes will try and play through them. They want to be on the field helping their team win - not on the sidelines feeling helpless. Sometimes, however, they just can’t get out there and play.

They need to go through the rehab process to make sure they are 100 percent both physically and mentality. It’s not easy going through an injury. An athlete, at times, can feel distant - and not part of the team.

Sure they may be there during practice, and games, but it’s not the same. They will be doing stuff on the side as they continue to fight back from the injury that sidelined them in the first place.

Hamburg High School’s senior Abby Kane knows what it’s like to battle injuries during her final season as a Bulldog. She missed a good early portion of the 2020 shortened high school season with an ankle injury.

A main cog for the Bulldogs during her time at Hamburg, Kane was doing everything possible to get back on the field. The one thing she wasn’t going to do was rush back only to re-injure  herself again.

“With my ankle injury, I know I wanted to be cautious and take time to heal my injury. I have been working very hard at Physical Therapy to regain strength and stability. It has been very frustrating for me because I have been putting in a lot of extra work since March on my own and with the Western New York Flash over the summer,” stated Kane. “I’m not only looking forward to my school season, but also my club season.This time off has been difficult, but has given me time to reflect on how much soccer really means to me.”

Coming back from any type of injury takes time. Kane was lucky that is was just an ankle that needed to heal on its own. She knew she was going to get back on the field, but she just didn’t know when.

That was probably the most frustrating part of the entire thing. Kane felt healthy, but not healthy enough to give her team a full 80 minutes on the pitch. After a while not being able to started to weigh on her mentality.

Kane wanted to be out there, she wanted to compete. She just needed to be patient. We all know patience is a virtue.

“It has been very tough not playing out on the field with my teammates. In some cases, it has been harder mentally than physically,” stated Kane. “I have tried to make the most of my injury by always being there to cheer on my teammates and by helping my coach with drills at practice. It has given me a different perspective on the game and has made me want to look into coaching in the future.”

As the season winds down, some will look at what Kane did last year on the pitch and say that she had off year. If you look at her stats, that statement would hold true. Her stats from her sophomore to junior year would indicate she had a bad, or off year.

Stats don’t tell the entire story.

Last season, Kane was asked to do a lot more than just score goals. She was asked to be a leader on and off the field. The coaches entrusted her with a lot more responsibility than just scoring goals.

“Last year my stats reflected I had a down year, but I don’t believe so. My job consisted of winning 50/50 balls in the center of the field and distributing to my teammates. I believe that stats don’t always show the impact a player has on their team and their game,” stated Kane. “I have always focused on improving my game and putting my team above all. The opinion of others has never captured my attention. I’ve always just had the mentality to  work my hardest and get the job done.”

Even being able to get on the field at all for a high school season is a big achievement. Kane, and her teammates, are playing with house money at this point. After the spring season was cancelled, no one knew if high school sports would even be played this year.

While football and volleyball will start in March, soccer and other fall sports got the go ahead to start playing again. The season started a month later than normal, but Kane was just happy to be able to play her senior year.

“I focused on taking things one week at a time and tried to keep a positive mindset. Most of my team and I did not believe we were going to have a high school season, so when we were able to have one we were all so excited! We just want to make the most out of the situation,” stated Kane. “We are so lucky to have a season this year. On my team, we have 16 seniors. We have all been playing together for so long and have become a family. We all really care about each other and I think that shows on the field. On senior night, there are going to be so many emotions, both happy and sad. We will be playing Frontier on our senior night. We may be rivals, but I have been teammates with many of their seniors. All of us being on the field together one last time will be very special.”

Kane’s laser is focus is just one reason why she is one of the best midfielders in Western New York. She has worked hard at honing her craft. That means lots of practice during the offseason with her club team, the Western New York Flash.

She knows she is the engine that runs the machine. Kane is the one that is pulling the strings in the midfield, making sure everyone is doing what they need to do. She is the conductor - the Maestro - pulling the strings.

Every great team has someone running the center of the pitch. For Hamburg, that would be Abby Kane.

“Being in the midfield, you have an  important role of having an energized mindset for the entire game. You need to constantly know what’s going on around you. You need to be a leader. Being in the center of the field, you are the player that connects your offense and defense. I believe that it’s most important to be a positive voice out on the field for your teammates,” stated Kane. “When you’re in the midfield, you are constantly marking players, tracking plays, making interceptions, making tackles, and helping your teammates to make the best plays possible. You need to always make yourself an option for your team to possess the ball. You also need to have quick decision making skills and be able to control the speed of play. Above all, you need to be selfless. You need to be willing to leave everything out on the field for your team and that begins with the mindset of never giving up.”


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