Nov. 1, 2006
IOWA CITY –
August 19, 2006 started out promising. The Iowa field hockey team was playing an exhibition game against Montana State at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes were anxious to get on the field and start the season. Warm-ups had just started when junior forward Caroline Blaum went to make a move she had used a thousand times before. She carried the ball into the circle and went to make a pass. However, her foot planted while the rest of her body moved. She heard her leg pop a couple times, then began to feel the pain.
Those pops signaled the end of her season. She tore both the ACL and MCL in her right leg. Even though she had successful surgery on August 30, she faced a long recovery.
Now two months after her surgery, things are progressing well for Blaum. She is improving each day and, so far, things seem to be on track for a healthy recovery.
“She’s progressing very well. The personal trainers and athletic trainers all say it’s going well. The feedback is all good. She’s either on or ahead of schedule,” said Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum. “We’re taking it one day at a time.”
While it hasn’t been an easy recovery path, Blaum has seen all her hard work pay off.
“It’s going really well. It’s frustrating at times, but my teammates, coaches, and trainers have been awesome. They said early on that the progress is gradual, but you notice it fairly easy. Especially as my range of motion increases, I see how much easier it is to go up and down the stairs every day,” she said.
Being away from the playing field is something Blaum isn’t used to. She started playing field hockey after her parents gave her a stick in third grade. She said many of her babysitters played field hockey when she was growing up so she was able to get a lot of practice.
All that extra practice paid off when Blaum was in high school. She was twice named first team all-state, and as a senior was named second team all-American and a first team regional all-American.
During her first two years as a Hawkeye, Blaum was a major contributor to the team. She started all 21 games as a freshman, and last year she was a second team all-Big Ten selection.
Griesbaum has seen Blaum mature as a player as well as as a leader during her first two years.
“She’s improved a ton. There’s not one aspect of her game where she’s hasn’t improved. Her development is amazing. The only word for it is phenomenal,” she said.
Even though she isn’t able to play, Blaum is still a major part of the team. She is one of three captains this year. She also attends practices and assists her teammates in any way possible.
“I’m pretty much doing whatever I normally do but without using a stick and ball. I’m doing my best to lead the team,” Blaum said. “I’ve been able to see the game from a whole different perspective.”
Blaum has also been keeping statistics, working with the attackers’ and helping Assistant Coach Lisa Cellucci with the goalkeepers.
While things are going well with her rehab, Blaum can’t help but want to be on the field with her teammates.
“It gets frustrating at times. It’s a lot different than I thought it would be. It’s hard to explain. Nothing can prepare you for it. I would love to be playing right now. It’s hard to watch. It’s been getting easier, but I want to be out there,” she said.
Blaum has been using her time on the sidelines to learn more about the sport.
“I’ve learned a lot. I have huge respect for the coaches and how sane they’re able to stay. They’re so in control of everything. They can prepare us all week long, but when game time comes, it’s all up to us. I get to see the game from their perspective. I have a whole lot of respect for them I never realized,” she said.
Blaum hopes to be back with the team in the spring. She was able to get a medical redshirt for this year. She still has two years of eligibility.
Despite Blaum getting a lot of valuable experience from the sidelines, Griesbaum is anxious to get her back on the field.
“She has a passion for field hockey. She loves to play. She exudes energy and a positive attitude.”