Century soccer player has returned from 'freaky' broken femur
Sometimes Bethany Boecker can feel a hitch in her step as she runs, and she knows exactly what it is: It’s muscle tissue above her right knee getting hung up on the titanium screws used to put her upper leg back together again.
It’s a minor discomfort -- the remnant of a major sports injury -- but it’s not about to keep Boecker from returning to play high school soccer this season.
The Century junior is back with energy and confidence, 12 months after sustaining a broken femur in a varsity soccer game early last season at Lakeville South.
"I thought it would be kind of scary to play again, but once I get out there and start moving around it just comes naturally," Boecker said. "I don’t really think about (the injury) anymore when I’m out on the field."
Boecker’s rebuilt right femur will get a true test this week when Century opens its 2011 season with a burst of four games in six days. The Panthers start on the road Thursday at Stillwater.
Karen LaDue has seen a lot of game injuries entering her 15th season as Century’s head girls soccer coach, but she had never seen anything like Boecker’s.
"You see a lot of sprained ankles, an occasional ACL tear, but I don’t think I have seen one like that before," LaDue said. "I remember seeing the collision take place (between Boecker and a Lakeville South player), and when (Boecker) went down you knew she wasn’t going to get back up."
Boecker’s plight was made worse because there was no ambulance at the field, and when an ambulance finally arrived it found both entrances to the field were blocked by other vehicles.
"They were announcing ‘Who owns this car?! We need it moved right away!’" related Mary Boecker, Bethany’s mom. "It was over half an hour before the ambulance could get on the field. At some point a doctor brought some drugs onto the field, for her pain, and then she saw the needle and she screamed even more."
"I’m definitely not a needles fan," Bethany acknowledged.
Time stood still as medics, coaches and her parents tended to Bethany on the field, and worried teammates milled about around her.
Bethany suffered a jagged fracture about an inch above the right knee. Her femur was protruding through her skin in a "freaky-looking" way, according to Mary. Yet Mary and Doug Boecker managed to keep their composure, for their daughter’s sake.
"The choice was either to freak out like Bethany was, or squeeze her hand and keep telling her that it would be okay," Mary said.
"There were some young x-ray technicians at the emergency room in Northfield and they just gasped when they saw her leg; it was quite deformed."
Boecker has been playing soccer since youth leagues and she was excited for her opportunity to play on the Century varsity team.
"She had a nice ninth grade season and we had high expectations for her," LaDue said. "I knew she had good speed and good foot skills, and she played hard."
Those high expectations still apply for the feisty Boecker. She came through emergency surgery and months of rehabilitation, and returned to club soccer in the spring. Now LaDue said she is expected to be "a big contributing player" for a Century team with loads of varsity experience and high hopes.
"I think she took this as an opportunity to make herself better; she’s a litte stronger, a little quicker," LaDue said. "She watched a lot of soccer when she was sidelined, and it gives you a different perspective. It definitely gave her the drive to get back playing again."
Boecker said she feels like her old self again, except for those two screws still in her leg. Once those are removed, after the soccer season in the winter, it’ll be just a few small scars and a bad memory.
"I just think it’s something that happened," she shrugged, "but it shouldn’t keep me from playing and performing my best."