March 13, 2013
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After twice tearing the same anterior cruciate ligament, there was a time where Katie Nasenbenny would be happy to just make it through a practice without injury. That time is long gone for the University of Iowa soccer player, as Nasenbenny is eyeing high goals for herself and her team in 2013.
Nasenbenny’s outlook on the spring and upcoming fall season is a reflection of just how far the redshirt sophomore has come after an injury-riddled start to her Hawkeye career.
“When you can stop thinking only about the minimum goal, staying healthy, and can instead focus on improving in all aspects of your game and setting the bar higher, it’s a good sign,” said Nasenbenny. “After going through two injuries, it’s nice to finally have that attitude where I’m working at all times to improve.”
After arriving to Iowa City in top shape and earning a starting role in Iowa’s 2010 season-opener as a true freshman, Nasenbenny’s career was off to a promising start. That start would get delayed just one day later, as Nasenbenny tore her ACL in practice. Nasenbenny went through the recovery process – surgery and physical therapy — and entered the 2011 poised to reclaim her starting role.
“It was rewarding to see her play the full season, and it was inspirational. As she has gone through this, she has only gotten stronger. We’re going to be expecting a lot from her as a player and a leader this season, which is a tribute to how hard she worked to get back.”
UI head coach Ron Rainey
She exceeded expectations by a mile, not only earning a spot in the staring XI, but scoring five goals in the first 11 matches of the season. She helped the Hawkeyes get off to a 9-0-2 start, the best start in program history.
Then, it happened again; same injury, same knee.
“Before getting to college, I really hadn’t faced much adversity in my life,” said Nasenbenny. “Then, in my first two years here I tear the same ACL twice. It was a big challenge, but I knew that if I kept the right attitude, I could get back and make it a positive.”
Yet again, Nasenbenny went through the recovery process to return to form. She knew what to expect this time around, and was more determined than ever to make a comeback. She was so determined that the team’s athletic trainer, Annica Morrison, had to make sure to slow her down to avoid overworking her knee.
“She was determined throughout the entire process,” said Morrison. “She was always trying to improve in some way each day. She didn’t want to hear no.”
UI head coach Ron Rainey, Iowa’s all-time winningest coach, came away with a similar impression of how hard Nasenbenny battled to recover.
“You look at athletes coming back from knee injuries and you always hear people talk about how hard they worked, but I bet Katie worked as hard as anybody coming out of those knee injuries,” said Rainey. “It was great for her and her teammates to see that. It’s a great story.”
The hard work paid off last season, as Nasenbenny started all 21 matches as a central attacking midfielder. She tallied nine points off four goals and an assist, leading the team to a 12-6-3 record and a trip to the Big Ten Tournament. Fittingly, Nasenbenny won the team’s Hawk Award at the end of the season.
“It was rewarding to see her play the full season, and it was inspirational,” said Rainey. “As she has gone through this, she has only gotten stronger. We’re going to be expecting a lot from her as a player and a leader this season, which is a tribute to how hard she worked to get back.”
Nasenbenny expects that she will be completely back to the original shape she was in before her injuries soon, and will be able to put the incidents behind her both physically and mentally.
“Toward the end of the last season and now into the spring, I’ve been feeling really good out there more consistently,” said Nasenbenny. “It’s great to be almost closing that chapter and moving on. I can’t thank all the medical staff and coach (Rainey) enough for their work. I can’t wait to contribute more to the team.”
The Hawkeyes started their exhibition spring season last week, as Nasenbenny tallied a goal and helped Iowa to a 5-0 victory against Drake in Iowa City. Iowa has six spring matches remaining.