There were 10 seconds left in field hockey’s final game of the 2016 season. The score was 2-1, with SNHU behind. Then sophomore Alyssa Scott lunged for the ball in an attempt to level the score and force overtime. She launched her stick forward but couldn’t reach the ball. In the midst of trying to find the ball, she felt severe pain radiating down her left arm. Her shoulder popped out of place.
“The buzzer went off and we had just lost that game,” said Scott, who is now a senior. “I was crying and my teammates thought it was because we lost the game, but it was because my shoulder hurt so much.”
Scott felt continuous pain after the injury and received an MRI a few weeks after the dislocation. She discovered she had torn her labrum in her left shoulder, which is a piece of fibrocartilage that keeps the ball of the joint in place. She was given two options for recovery: surgery or physical therapy.
She chose physical therapy as she didn’t want to receive surgery if she didn’t necessarily have to. However, her shoulder continued to slip in and out of place.
Midway through the following season, Scott reached for a shot on goal during a match-up against Adelphi and felt a pull in her shoulder. This time, her whole arm went numb.
Scott went to see a surgeon a few days later who told her she had rotator cuff damage in addition to a labral tear. Surgery was the only method to full recovery.
She underwent surgery in November of 2017 following the end of field hockey season. She was in a sling for eight weeks and was unable to play field hockey for 11 months.
“I had trouble even taking a shower,” said Scott. “I would take (my shoulder) out of the sling and I had no muscle so my arm would just hang there. I had to learn how to do everything on my own again.”
The surgery tightened all the muscles and ligaments in her shoulder to prevent the joint from slipping out of place again. She spent the first two months after surgery in physical therapy undergoing stretching practices.
Not being able to play field hockey was difficult for Scott as playing is how she releases stress. When she had a bad day before surgery, she would go to the field and take out her frustration. “It was tough going through the most stressful thing I’ve been through and not having the same stress reliever,” she said.
To release stress, she instead practiced foot and stick drills. She also picked up running.
Scott was officially cleared to play noncontact field hockey in May 2018, but wasn’t cleared to play contact field hockey until a week before preseason this August. It had been a year since she last played.
She described her return to the sport as feeling like “a chicken with my head cut off.” She was excited to play, but was unsure of what she should be doing.
Her first game back was the 2018 season opener against Assumption on September 1. She started in center midfield. She and the Penmen ultimately won the battle.
“I was so nervous,” she expressed. “I had to fall back on habits developed in preseason.”
It was a game that she will never forget.
To keep herself from future injuries, Scott works with the SNHU trainers before every practice. She uses the arm bike to strengthen her shoulders and rolls out her back and shoulders using rollers. She also goes to TB12 at Patriot’s Place one to two times a week for additional physical therapy.
“I have to do more than I think,” Scott said. “A couple weeks ago I had another scare where a tendon in my shoulder ripped. It’s fine now. But I have to do a lot of extra training. Going to TB12 has been extremely helpful. I do extra back stuff. They do deep tissue massage, and they have me hold a field hockey stick in different positions and do resistance.”
Scott didn’t play on more than 30% of her season last year. NCAA regulations state that if a player misses more than 70% of an athletic season, he or she qualifies for another year. Therefore, Scott can play field hockey next year if she choses to do a grad year.
“I have another year of eligibility,” said Scott. “I want to be better than I was before so I have to put in more effort than everyone else because I missed a whole year of practice, but I hope to make it up if I chose to do a grad year.”
Scott looks to continue her recovery workout routine so she can prevent her body from future injuries.