Soccer: Junior Stella Affrunti plans her return to the field


The Catalyst / Photo Courtesy of George Retelas

Affrunti plays at one of her last games from her sophomore year.

Stella Affrunti, a junior who has been an asset to NDB’s varsity soccer team since her freshman year, was injured during the end of her sophomore season. She sat down with The Catalyst to talk about some of the challenges she has faced during her recovery.

The Catalyst (TC): How were you injured and when did it happen?

Stella Affrunti (SA): I tore my ACL at the end of CCS last year. The season was pushed back a few months because of COVID, and in the playoff game, I had to switch to a position I did not normally play. When I received the ball, their best player came and she fought with me for the ball, giving me a full-arm extension and my weight shifted and landed on my knee.

TC: What was the initial recovery like?

SA: When I first found out that it was an ACL tear, I was freaking out because I had to have surgery. The first week after surgery was tough, and once I started to get around more, it was difficult because I could not do a lot by myself. Once I hit two months post-operation, I could start to do more physical activity like riding the bike and getting a sweat. Eventually, at three months when I could run on a treadmill, everything started to become smooth.

TC: How were you able to stay driven and motivated when you were out for recovery, and how did it all affect you mentally?

SA: I was trying really hard to take care of myself and realize that even though it would take a long time, it was kind of a blessing in disguise where I can focus on myself and become healthy. I actually got a book from one of my coaches that was about the mental part of injury, and had information and advice from many athletes who went through similar obstacles. I tried to go on walks with my family, or journal my thoughts and anger. It also helps that I have supportive friends, family and teammates.

TC: Were you still able to be involved with your NDB soccer team even when not on the field?

SA: Yeah, I definitely was. My coach made me a junior captain this year so that I could still be involved, along with a senior who also tore her ACL, McKenna. He always wanted us to be there and would call to check in on us to see how recovery was going. Now that I am seven months, I can have started training without contact, so having my teammates always encouraging me is great.

TC: What are you most excited about when you return for next year’s season?
SA: I am really excited to play a game. It will almost be a year away from playing when I return, and I think it will be nerve-wracking. Even though I can train right now, I just want to have that adrenaline from the first game back. You know, making your first goal for the first time again and just competing.