UPEI player was in a serious car accident three months ago
© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
UPEI Panthers’ Jenna Jo McDonald
Hard work and determination have led Jenna Jo McDonald back to a place she loves.
Today, nearly three months to the day of a serious car accident, she will be back on the soccer pitch with her UPEI Panthers in Charlottetown.
On June 30, she fractured the left side of her pelvis in three spots and broke a rib resulting in a punctured lung.
Some people thought she would miss the soccer season.
McDonald wasn’t one of them.
“I couldn’t picture myself not playing for a full year,” said the 19-year-old Kellys Cross resident.
McDonald has done everything in her power to make her return today in front of the home crowd against Dalhousie at 2 p.m.
“A week out of the hospital I started swimming,” the third-year food and nutrition student explained before practice earlier this week. “I was allowed to swim because there was no impact on my bones. I think that sped up my healing big time.”
The swimming helped, but it was only part of the process.
She went to physiotherapy five times a week during the summer and continued when school began earlier this month. She has been in the gym, done exercises at home and also attended practices. When she was unable to participate fully with her teammates, McDonald could be found running laps around the soccer field or on a stationary bike.
One part that stood out to her was missing the always-daunting fitness tests during the team’s training camp.
“Seeing them do all those fitness tests, I was like, ‘when I am back I have to be in shape,’” McDonald said.
Her timetable has continued to be moved up as her progress improved.
“This weekend is a really big game for our team. Dal is a really big competitor for us. They’re first in the league right now, so it’s a huge game,” she said. “I’m just excited but also nervous because I haven’t played in three months.”
I’m just excited, but also nervous because I haven’t played in three months. Jenna Jo McDonald on returning to the soccer pitch today with the UPEI Panthers
Coach Lewis Page said the team is looking forward to her return.
“It’s a great inspiration to the team,” he said. “They’re all certainly inspired and excited to have her back.”
While it could be an emotional start to the game, Page said he didn’t expect to say anything special to the team.
“I think Jenna Jo, with her attitude and her effort to get back to be able to play this soon, has said a lot more with her actions than I could ever say with my words.”
And while McDonald knows she is not at the same place she was before the accident, the coach said the humble striker can still play a big role.
“She is a very good technical player,” he said. “She can make those passes that can unlock defences.”
Sunday will also be a special day for McDonald, as her older sister Amanda plays for Saint Mary’s.
“That was another goal for me to get back to play against her,” McDonald said.
While not where she wants to be at this point in the season, it’s likely she soon will be given her drive and determination.
UPEI Panthers weekend schedule:
2 p.m. – Dalhousie at UPEI
4:15 p.m. – Dalhousie at UPEI
1 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI
3:15 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI
3 p.m. – UPEI at St. F.X.