Cutrona overcomes all odds
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Jeffrey Barnes: Sports Union
It has been a long, and winding, road for Carissima Cutrona - one that has had some many twist and turns that it would make your head spin. After Cutrona tore her ACL for the second time, during her senior season at the University at Buffalo, she thought her soccer career was over.
Cutrona didn’t know that to think when FC Buffalo started up a women’s team. She was asked to come out by the coaches and though she would give it one last shot. One last time on the pitch that she had made so many memories during her soccer career.
“Going through both of my ACL tears and the rehab that comes along with that injury certainly tested my self-belief that I would be able to play professionally. I tried to not look too far ahead during those rehabs and just focused on doing the proper things to make sure I had healthy recoveries,” stated Cutrona. “Once I was in the clear, I focused on working with my trainers to get myself back to a high level of play and fitness. I put a lot of time into training and getting myself in shape so that I could make this possible. I’m grateful for all of the help I have had along the way throughout my journey.”
Her time at FC Buffalo was marked by success. She was one of the best players on the pitch during her stint with FC Buffalo. The knee issues that had plagued her during her career seemed like a thing of the past. Cutrona was her old self.
But, it wasn’t easy. It has been a grind for Cutrona. She has been working hard to keep herself in shape just incase the opportunity arose again for her to suit on the pitch.
“I always knew that I wanted to try to play professionally after college. Unfortunately I suffered a torn ACL for the second time during my senior year at UB which delayed those plans. While rehabbing my knee, I ended up enrolling in a 3-year graduate school program to obtain my Master’s in School Psychology, which is also a big passion of mine,” stated Cutrona. “During that time of rehabbing and then getting back into training, COVID happened and further delayed any potential opportunities for me to play. For awhile, it felt like there were always new roadblocks in the way of my ultimate goal of playing professionally. The passion I have and joy I feel while playing soccer is what has always pushed me to keep pursuing an opportunity. It has definitely been a grind these past few years to keep myself in form incase an opportunity popped up. While going to grad school, I coached and completed a full-time internship during the school year but still tried my best to make time to train and play soccer as much as I could.”
Her success with FC Buffalo got her noticed overseas. Cutrona parlayed her success with FC Buffalo for a shot to continue her career over in Europe. A chance to continue to play was music to her ears.
The fact that she could do it in Europe was even better. The best of the best apply their trade overseas. That’s where you truly make a name for herself. Cutrona would be the third FC Buffalo women’s soccer player to play in Europe.
“When major injuries like torn ACL’s happen, there can be a lot of doubt that you’ll ever be able to return and play at a high level again. For me, I gained confidence from knowing I dedicated a lot of my time to training as much as I could,” stated Cutrona. “I believed in all the work that I had put in and knew that if I wanted it bad enough, I could make it happen. Of course along the way there were tough days where I doubted myself, but I think the perseverance and commitment of just showing up every day to get better is what helped me to keep pushing towards my goals.”
The transition to the European game hasn’t been an easy one for Cutrona, they play the game differently over there. The game is a lot faster and a little bit more physical in Norway. Something she has had to get used to.
“My time in Norway has been a good experience so far. Norwegian soccer is definitely a different style of play than back home and it took some time to adjust to the physicality and quicker pace of it,” stated Cutrona. “Compared to other teams in the First Division, my team is young and inexperienced, which has presented some challenges for us during games. Although we haven’t had the success on the field yet that we were hoping for, I still believe it has been a really influential experience for me and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here.”
Getting up and just moving to Europe wasn’t an easy decision. Sure, it’s something that Cutrona has thought about since she was a little girl. Every time someone asked her what she wanted too be when she grew up, Cutrona always said a soccer player. That was all she every wanted to be.
So, when the time came to make a decision on her career, Cutrona chose what she always wanted to do. That meant leaving friends and family to go on this journey. It meant leaving a job she had just obtained to see if she was good enough to play at the highest level of women’s soccer in Europe.
“Playing professional soccer has been the ultimate dream of mine since I started playing at 5 years old. When teachers would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A professional soccer player was always my answer. With that being said, since I wasn’t able to pursue soccer right after finishing college, I became involved in coaching high school soccer and coaching for PlayMaker Training,” stated Cutrona. “I actually was hired to start a full-time School Psychology job for the school year too because I wasn’t sure if an opportunity to play professionally would ever come my way. Once I got that call, I knew in my heart what I wanted to do. Luckily, I had a lot of people around me who supported my decision and knew it was what I had been working towards for so long. It was definitely scary to move to a place that I knew nothing about and knew no one, but it was also exciting to try something new and get outside my comfort zone.”
Her game would translate to any type of soccer. What she needed to get used to was the language barrier that was going to exist. Also, the different culture in general, while still trying to play the game of soccer.
There are worse places that Norway to play soccer. The country is amazing. The culture is second to none. It has allowed Cutrona to step out of her comfit zone and learn new things. Learn something new about herself.
“I have enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and learning a new culture. Norway is a beautiful place with tons of outdoor adventure,” stated Cutrona. “On my days off, I enjoy going hiking and exploring all of what this country has to offer. Luckily, the language barrier hasn’t been too difficult as most of my coaches and teammates can speak English or at least understand it.”