In sports, injuries happen. Yet, while some consider their injury the end, others consider their injury the beginning. Rhodes College junior soccer player, Hannah Selner, has embraced her trail of enduring a knee injury and used her adversity to refine her as a soccer player.
As a little girl, Selner got her start on the ice where her Dad bought her a pair of skates and let her play hockey with the boys until she was thirteen. At that point, Selner decided to take up basketball (which she still plays at Rhodes) and soccer as what she calls “the constant sports presence in her life.”
“My family is all really athletic and from a young age, a lot of my spare time revolved around various sports practices between my younger brother and sister and I,” said Selner.
Dealing with several injuries in her soccer career, Selner’s junior year of high school took an unexpected turn when she tore her ACL and part of her meniscus which had to be removed.
“Honestly, tearing my ACL was one of the most devastating things that has ever happened to me. I’m not saying that to be dramatic, but for the first time, I no longer had the physical and mental release of playing soccer available to me, and it was brutal,” confessed Selner. “I knew that the only way I was going to keep my spirits up and stop feeling sorry for myself was if I threw myself completely into my physical therapy and recovery.”
Selner began attending physical therapy three times a week and two months later decided it would be best to work with a personal trainer that the club she played for (Real Colorado) used often. Eventually, Selner was able to regain her leg muscle and get back in the game.
I think that tearing my ACL made me a better player because it made me appreciate soccer, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of not being able to do something that makes you appreciate it that much more when you can finally do it again.
“I think that tearing my ACL made me a better player because it made me appreciate soccer,” said Selner. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of not being able to do something that makes you appreciate it that much more when you can finally do it again.”
Not fully up to par physically, Selner learned new ways to play the game she loved which included being able to see the field well and anticipate the game.
Women’s head soccer coach and Coordinator of Recreation Services, Joe Vari, reflected on the time when Selner was recruited to Rhodes.
“She was only a couple of weeks clear to play when she attended one of our spring camps, and at only a couple weeks being cleared, we saw something special in her,” said Vari. “That summer and the following summer she worked incredibly hard, and came back fitter and stronger each summer. She’s been very determined with her fitness and the summer program and it has paid large divided for her.”
Coach Vari also noted how Selner’s adversity attributed to her leadership as she became a mentor to her little sister Emma Selner, who is also on the team and also faced an injury in high school.
“She’s a good leader in the weight room and also in the rehab area. She’s got great form, and can teach the new girls proper techniques,” acknowledged Vari. “She’s also able to provide tips to some of the girls when they have minor injuries and are getting treatment.”
Selner contributes her success to her coach who helped teach her a new position as forward upon coming to Rhodes stating, “I definitely had a severe learning curve my freshman year and had no idea how to play with my back facing the goal a majority of the time, but Joe patiently answered all of my questions.”
While last season brought Selner more goals and this season more assists, Coach Vari states, “I think she’s more proud of the season that she has this year.”
Crediting her Mom and sister as her inspirations, aspiring to move to Washington D.C., and desiring to attend law school, Selner will carry her determination with her on and off the field.
Her encouragement to other injured athletes: “Keep your goals in sight and don’t rest until you’ve attained them.”