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How To Mentally Handle A Season-Ending Injury

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(Photo by Joe Kraus)

When Serena Goodridge began her freshman season at Arcadia University, she had no idea that she would become the Knights' starting first baseman. After starting 42 games in 2022, there was nothing but success expected for the future of her career.

That reality would abruptly change, however, when one day Goodridge noticed pain in her hip. After finishing the season and trying to heal the injury naturally, the pain got too severe and she had to get it checked out by a medical professional. Following that visit, Goodridge had to come to the harsh realization that her sophomore season was not going to happen for her in 2023.

See below for SA’s conversation with Goodridge about how she handled the adversity of having a season-ending injury.

Softball America: What did your softball career look like up until the point that you encountered your injury?

Serena Goodridge: I have been playing softball since I was four or five years old, I believe. I got recruited by Arcadia while playing travel ball for the PA Xtreme, and decided to commit here in August right before my senior year started. In my first season at Arcadia, we played 43 games total and I started 42 of those at first base, while mostly staying in the middle of the lineup.

SA: What injury do you have and what is the recovery process like for it?

SG: I tore the labrum in my right hip, which is the cartilage that is in your hip socket. My tear was pretty severe. With most labrum tears in your hip, they will recover on their own. However, mine was too far gone to heal naturally. I had surgery on Dec. 23, 2022 to repair the tear. My recovery time is about six months post-op until I am able to be on the softball field again.

SA: How has your mental health been from the time of your initial injury to beginning your recovery process?

SG: My mental health definitely has not been the best during this time of injury and recovery, but that is to be expected. It is extremely difficult, especially as a college athlete, to accept the fact that your life will change drastically due to an injury that you had no control over. As athletes, our lives almost revolve around our sports, and to go from playing softball every day to not knowing the next time you will be able to even have a catch or hit a ball is devastating. At first, I just felt so depressed and defeated. I just could not accept the fact of this being my new reality. Slowly over time, it has gotten much better, but some days are still harder than others. You do not realize that you are not just recovering from your injury physically, but you are also recovering mentally.

SA: Do you think it is important for athletes, whether injured or not, to be involved with mental health resources like therapy, support groups, etc.?

SG: I do think it is very important. Honestly, with an injury, no matter how many mental health talks you have or how good your mental health is, it will affect you even if you try to not let it. I think especially for injured players, it is super important to have these things and be on top of it before it gets the best of you. Athletes as a whole deal with such high levels of stress on a daily basis that mental health resources are important to make sure the overall health of athletes is being taken care of.

SA: What is a piece of advice you would give to other injured athletes?

SG: My best piece of advice is to do what is best for you. Don’t force yourself to go to practice or go to lift. It is okay to skip out on those things if it makes you too upset to go. You’re not being a bad teammate for not being there, and your teammates will understand. It’s okay to cry it out and it’s okay to be sad. Do what is best for you and try to find the little positives and little wins that you can. 

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