Audrey Bowen on ACL injury, how she bounced back

Audrey Bowen made it back into play after an ACL tear in January (photo by Kyle Grabowski for The Amherst Bulletin)

Audrey Bowen is a senior at ARHS, who, like many students, faces an injury that sets her back as an athlete. I spoke with her to learn about her injury, how she recovered from it, and what she carries with her from the experience. 

CJ: Describe your injury. When and how did it happen?

AB: In January of 2022, the basketball team was supposed to play a game. But when that other team canceled we had a practice instead. During the practice, I caught the ball and turned and felt my knee pop and I immediately knew that I tore it. I was sitting on the ground telling my coach that there was something wrong with my knee and he was trying to be optimistic.

CJ: When it was confirmed that you tore your ACL, what was your reaction?

AB: I remember that I was also convincing myself that I didn’t tear it even though deep down I knew I had. When I found out I just broke down. I felt guilty for my team because I felt like I was letting everyone down. I was also in school when my parents texted me [the news from the scan]. 

CJ: How were you able to stay connected to the team when you were out?

AB: The team does a lot of team bonding like going to dinner and other stuff. I went to all the games and practices to stay a part of the team and show leadership and lead by example. I also got to do the handshakes when the starters were announced. 

CJ: How was your mental health affected?

AB: I was really depressed at first. I decided not to play in college for a time and I thought I would never be able to play sports again. I hated crutches. 

CJ: How did it feel losing in the playoffs when you couldn’t play?

AB: It was a really good game and I felt like I had a lot of spirit for our bench. I remember when we lost I saw Delaney [who graduated last year] and I just felt sad because I didn’t get to play in our last game together. I should’ve been focused on next year but I mostly felt a feeling of “what if” the whole season.

CJ: How did it feel when you got cleared to play volleyball again?

AB: I was very happy but also scared because I have a constant fear of re-injuring myself. I was super surprised at first because no one thought that I would be able to play as early as I did. I was supposed to be cleared in January but it got moved up to October. I was super excited to be able to play for most of my volleyball season and eventually to win Western Mass and all of my basketball season.

CJ: What did your teammates do to help you get back on track? 

AB: They would always take me to the gym and we all lift together and they were really supportive. Especially Delaney, when I was a junior. She was the first person I told when I got cleared. She was one of my closest friends and I’m happy I got to play with her as long as I did.

CJ: Has it changed how you go about sports?

AB: I think I play a little safer now. It’s always in the back of my mind when I play. When something happens or I make contact with someone I get a little nervous. I know that at any second the smallest thing could cause a big problem and out me again.