Sports Editor Nick Pecoraro contributed to this story
If you’re lucky, you may never get injured while playing a sport. If you’re unlucky, you’ll have to face one injury. But if you’re Jessica Camacho? You’ve had to face some serious adversity.
Camacho, 21, is one of the captains on the City College women’s soccer team.
When she was a junior playing soccer at Kennedy High School, she suffered her first major injury, a torn right meniscus — knee cartilage. She believed that her soccer-playing days were over, until City College soccer coach Jang-Ha Oh came recruiting during her senior year.
“Before that, I wasn’t thinking I could play anywhere else, because I came back from my knee injury that season,” says Camacho. “I wasn’t at my best and thought there was no way I would be picked up, but Coach saw potential in me.”
According to Oh, injuries are as common an opponent as any other Big 8 Conference team the Panthers face. This year is no exception, as injuries have forced City to play without at least eight starters in recent weeks. Oh said the injury factor is a major reason why City has struggled over a 2-11-1 record through Oct. 19.
Camacho’s freshman year at City was similar.
“I came that summer and played for the season,” said Camacho. “We weren’t very good because he had a lot of injuries and we were playing with seven to eight girls on the field.”
After redshirting in 2015, Camacho was determined to get back on the field in the fall for the 2016 season, but in an instant, optimism turned into heartbreak all over again.
“I joined three indoor teams and two outdoor teams, so I was playing 24/7,” said Camacho. “I was constantly playing everyday, and then I broke my ankle.”
The left ankle break came in May of 2016; a setback that damaged nerves and required a metal plate and seven screws.
Oh was at the scene when Camacho’s ankle broke and transported her to the emergency room.
“It was horrible, not like a simple break,” said Oh. “She was trying to dribble and her whole foot was on top of the ball. She panicked as soon as she felt something wrong.”
Camacho was frustrated at the new injury, but after a slow rehabilitation she worked her way back to the field.
“I ended up not being able to play for the 2016 season and had to wait another season to play,” said Camacho, who’s double majoring in criminal justice and social science. “I was on the bench being water-girl, keeping stats and encouraging the rest of the team.”
Camacho has overcome a lot to find a way to make it back to the sport she loves. At the start of the 2017 season, Oh decided to make Camacho a captain of the team. Despite the injuries, he sees potential, leadership and responsibility in her.
“She knows me and I know her, and she also has good dribbling skills,” Oh said. “Fundamentally, she’s a solid player and the backbone of our team.”
For more info on SCC women’s soccer, visit sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/wsoc