Englert Perseveres Through Injury

ALEXANDRA SMITH Contributing Writer

Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” Lions soccer player Nic Englert embodies this sentiment perfectly.

Like most successful teen athletes, Englert felt like an unbreakable, invincible force for much of his youth. Standing head and shoulders above his peers in terms of talent, he dominated youth and high school soccer and caught the attention of college recruiters, including Coach Jimmy Stephens of Piedmont College. Nic was no stranger to Coach Stephens. His older brother Zack had come to Piedmont one year earlier to play soccer as well, but while Zack was saving goals,

Nic was busy scoring them.

Coming in his freshman year, Englert was as naturally as excited as any college freshman student-athlete would be. Everything he had ever worked for had built toward this phase in his life, and everything he hoped to become hinged on how the next four years of his career would play out.

Just a few games into his freshman season, he experienced all the hours of hard work coming to a halt. He describes what happened like this:

“I was at practice and we are doing one on one drills. Another player and I clock knees. He gets up and I don’t. Next thing I know I’m in the training room, and they’re looking at my knee. It’s really hurt. Ive never had a knee injury like this before, and they send me to the doctors. I find out that I have sprained my MCL and bruised my meniscus,” described Englert.

After taking time to rest and rehabilitate his knee injury, Englert returned to the field for the end of the season and the following spring season. He worked hard alongside the PC trainers to be ready to play at full speed again. Strength training and rest were key to him being able to return to the field so quickly, and he felt like he had dodged a bullet by avoiding surgery. So, he was back on the field for his sophomore season and hungry to play at the level and intensity that he lacked post injury his freshman year. Unknown to him, fate wasn’t done with him yet.

“Second scrimmage of the year, I had made it through preseason and all the 5 AM workouts, and we were scrimmaging a club team. I was on the edge of the six, hopefully about to score and one of their players cuts their leg from behind and pushes my knee pushes a little too far inside. I heard a pop and went down. I may have let out a yell, and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, it’s my knee again.’ The trainers sent me to the doctor, and they think I tore my ACL this time,” said Englert.

The next three to six months are a pretty big question mark for Englert right now. The doctors have yet to officially diagnose him with an ACL tear, however he is prepared for wherever this season may take him.

“I was supposed to have an MRI this past Wednesday, but they pushed it back to this Monday. The doctor thinks it’s my ACL, but we have no clear cut answer.  It could be a sprain, it could be a tear, but these next few months are just waiting and strengthening. Maybe if I am lucky enough

I can play at the end of the season,” said Englert.

He has used this injury as an opportunity for him, and his attitude is helping his team on and off the field.

Coach Stephens is wasting no time with Englert either. Though he isn’t helping his team with goals or assists, he is able to help on the sidelines in ways that are priceless.

“Not being able to practice means that I get to sit on the bench and watch the team, and there are times when he will come over and just talk to me about anything,” said Englert  So, now he looks to his junior season next. Preparing for that will be a long road, and the beginning of that season will have many holding their breath.

“If I’m able to make it to the third season without injury, and fully healthy, I think I am going to be more appreciative of the fact that I get to play,” said Englert.

While he looks forward to his third season, the lessons that he has been able to acquire through these two injuries go beyond any training that a coach or drill could give him. It’s obviously not me getting better physically or technically, but just being able to be a better team player. “I think by just being able to sit and watch, my takeaway is just more learning about my team,” said Englert

As for his team, he says that being a Lion has made a huge difference. The family that he has found here has made his unfortunate circumstance, seem much more like a blessing in disguise.

“Both times I have been hurt, so many guys on the team even right when I got injured, were willing to help or wanted to know what they could do for me. The whole team is like that and it’s super huge to know that they are behind me,” said Englert.

Suffering through a second serious injury in a young collegiate career could have signaled the end of competitive soccer for Englert. Instead, he chose to look at the injury as an opportunity to improve as a player, grow as a person, and prove that hard work and perseverance really can pay off.