KSU using redshirt resurgence

Marcus Barkley

Freshman Stephanie Arbelaez overcame a possible career-ending injury to play again, and is now coming on strong for the Flashes

Redshirt freshman Stephanie Arbelaez passes to a teammate in practice yesterday afternoon. Arbelaez injured her ACL last year and was unable to play.

Credit: DKS Editors

When Stephanie Arbelaez, redshirt freshman field hockey player, came to Kent State last year, she already had the tension of moving across the country from her hometown, San Diego, to a new school, town and state.

On top of that, she brought along a knee injury that ends the career of many athletes – and this wasn’t the first time she had the injury.

“Last year (before I came to Kent State), I tore my left (anterior cruciate ligament),” Arbelaez said. “It was my second time doing it. While everyone was practicing, I was working on the sidelines with the trainers.”

A torn ACL, especially two tears on the same one, sidelines many athletes and can be a potentially career-ending injury.

But Arbelaez didn’t give up. She was redshirted to give her the chance to play four years if she was able to come back from her injury.

Arbelaez said it wasn’t easy sitting out with her injury, especially because she wasn’t able to bond with her team when she was hurt.

“It was the worst thing ever,” Arbelaez said. “It just sucked because I was a freshman and wanted to bond with the team, but I couldn’t bond with them because I wasn’t playing with them. It was just hard – I was just the ball-shagging girl pretty much. It was really difficult to me.”

Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said she knew Arbelaez had the right attitude before she ever had the chance to compete.

“We were really excited about having Stephanie come to Kent State last year,” Schanne said. “It was unfortunate with the injury she suffered, but she was always there, at every practice, working hard all last year.”

With a season of rehabilitation, Arbelaez was able to not only join her team in spring practice, but she was also able to suit up and play at the start of this season.

“My knees feel great,” Arbelaez said. “The season is going really well so far.”

Schanne said she is happy to see Arbelaez finally able to have her hard work in rehabilitation pay off.

“It’s nice to just have her in a uniform with a stick in her hand, which I think is huge for our team,” Schanne said. “It’s just great to see her out on the field.”

Schanne said it would have been one thing for Arbelaez to go out and compete after an injury of that magnitude, but she proved right away she was going to do more than just compete.

While playing all 70 minutes against Lock Haven Sept. 7, Arbelaez made a key save and was rewarded for her play with the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Arbelaez, though happy for the recognition, said playing 70 minutes and getting the award was just part of the job.

“I’m a field hockey player – it feels like a job, but it’s something I love to do,” Arbelaez said. “It was fun.”

Arbelaez said her injury taught her not to take things for granted.

“(The injury) definitely taught me to appreciate every moment on the field,” Arbelaez said. “You never know when your career could just be cut, so I just try to have fun, enjoy my teammates and just have a good time out there. It feels great to be back.”

Schanne said there are two different ways for an athlete to handle an injury, and Arbelaez chose the right path.

“You can feel sorry for yourself and mope around practice, but (Stephanie) did everything she could,” Schanne said. “She learned, she watched video (and) she was asking questions. I just think it all made her a better hockey player.”

Contact sports correspondent Marcus Barkley at [email protected].