Brigid Gannon was in her doctor’s office, asking to be allowed to return to play two days earlier.
It had been five months and 28 days since the Kaneland soccer player tore her ACL, and she was cleared to play after six months on April 6. But a game against rival Sycamore was scheduled for April 4.
She got permission. She got in the game. And she scored the first two of her 25 goals of the year in a win over the Spartans.
Gannon has been named the Daily Chronicle Girls Football Player of the Year 2022.
“He was uncertain because he had never knocked anyone out so early,” said the junior striker. “But I was putting in a ton of work. I went to Athletico, my physiotherapy center, four times a week and I put so much time and energy into it, an hour and a half, two hours of work each time. Then I would go home and do icing and stretching on the weekends. It was a ton of work.
Gannon tore up the ACL during the club’s fall season. She said her coaches, doctor and parents all helped her get to the point where she could return for the season – and in her case two days early.
She said it was a chore, both mentally and physically, to come back from the injury.
“It’s tough, because at first you can barely walk,” Gannon said. “You’re like bedridden for two weeks. I was just taking it day by day, pushing myself every day. The day I was allowed to run, I was running. I was on this treadmill and I ran to school, to the fitness center, to Athletico. I was doing a lot of work and a lot of cardio to stay in shape and be on the court and make an impact.
And after six months of intensive recovery work, she said it changed her perspective on what was possible as she entered a typical off-season and club season.
“After putting all that energy and hard work into this year, it makes me want to put more into next year,” Gannon said. “I never realized how much impact football had on my life until I tore my anterior cruciate ligament and was out for that long time. I’ve been playing since I was 3 years old. My mom started a team as soon as I could walk, I’ve been playing ever since, and my ACL injury was one of my biggest fears.
Kaneland coach Scott Parillo initially said he didn’t expect Gannon to return until at least May, in time for the playoffs if the team was lucky.
And while he said she wasn’t exactly 100%, she’s only missed three games this year.
“Coming back from this injury, we didn’t know what to expect. We really didn’t,” Parillo said. “We didn’t know what kind of shape she was going to be in, that kind of stuff. I thought she had a terrific season considering what she had to come back to. Obviously she wasn’t 100% at any point in the season, I even think she would be okay with that. There are times when we take her out of games so she can rest her knee, ice it. Practice, same thing. I think she had a great season. We didn’t know what to expect from here.
As excellent as she has been with the ball this year – eight assists in addition to her 25 goals – Parillo said he expects even more from her next year.
“She can finish,” Parillo said. “Not being 100 per cent, maybe she didn’t complete all the opportunities she had, but I’m definitely optimistic that will change next year. It’s a whole different dynamic. You You have to watch where Brigid is on the field. You can’t take your eyes off her because she’s going to be there and rip a punch.
Parillo said he was impressed with how hard Gannon worked to come back as soon as she did.
Gannon said the six months without football was definitely an eye-opening experience.
“You don’t expect it to affect you mentally and physically,” Gannon said. “Just to go through all that work and energy, to keep pushing yourself even when you think you’ll never get there – I pushed myself so much to be on this pitch for this game and many games to come.”