Triumph From Tragedy
Growing up Brianna Shingary played for Ambassadors FC 97 club team where she won the USYSA Region II Championships, Premier Division of the MRL and State Cup. She then started as a defender for the WPSL team in it’s inaugural year in 2016. Bri went to the University of Buffalo & in her freshman year won All-MAC Freshman team award. Bri wanted the challenge of the ACC & to be closer to home so she transferred to the University of Pittsburgh.
But in the fall season of her sophomore year, the unthinkable happened. Bri was involved in an accident where she was hit by a car. She was told she would never play soccer again. Below is an account from Bri, who is playing for us once again in the 2019 WPSL Season:
I’ve learned more from injury than I ever expected to learn in a lifetime.
I got injured on August 28, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I stayed overnight at UPMC in Pennsylvania for eight days but I didn’t feel much emotion at first. Fast forward to hearing I would never walk again and needing a plan for life in a wheelchair – I felt all the emotion.
I was diagnosed with a crushed peroneal nerve and partial crush in my tibial nerve as well as a broken fibula. The crushed peroneal nerve injury gave me a drop foot, which essentially meant that I could not lift my foot on my own. I had no feeling in my right leg. I was numb to needles, ice, etc. Nerves aren’t like bones either. The doctors were hesitant to go in right away since I was young. They explained that if the nerve planned to regenerate at all, it was going to happen naturally. Three months went by of Electromyography (EMG) testing. An EMG measures muscle response or electrical activity in response to a stimulated nerve of the muscle. I went every two weeks for EMG testing and after three months a “shock” finally happened. My doctor told me I was going to the University of Pennsylvania, where there was a doctor who could do surgery on my peroneal nerve in the next week. The doctor at UPenn didn’t have a clear cut plan, but was going to try anything he could. I woke up three hours later to 26 stitches. While in surgery they used the EMG testing while my leg was open, having the ability to work with my nerve and realign it. My doctor was unsure of the outcome (e.g., would I be able to run/jump, be active, etc). About four weeks after surgery I began walking at physical therapy and began running about four months after.
It was unique because I had no timeline. I wasn’t supposed be running at six months like an ACL injury or three months for ankle injury, I was on God’s timeline and I wasn’t questioning it. I had three more surgeries following my nerve surgery that dealt with my muscles reacting to the injury.
I finished my last three semesters at Pitt and graduated a semester early. I applied to Cleveland State knowing I wanted to continue my education. I began training with Caleb in the fall of 2018, and things took off from there. Like I said, I was on God’s timeline so there was no pressure to be back by a certain point, as this was all a miracle to begin with. I want to add – my whole injury is on my right foot, and I just so happen to be a left footed player. I add that because my situation would be extremely different if this would have happened to my dominant foot. I still have a lot of lost feeling in my leg and a lot of lost mobility. I don’t spend any extra time with my right foot, and I don’t intend to ever spend time with my right foot. I learned quick, the more I use my right foot, the more I lose it, truthfully – it will just die on me. That being said, I would rather have the ability to walk than kick the ball great with my right foot.
I will leave you with this: First, believe in yourself – no matter what. Coaches aren’t always going to believe in you, especially when coming back from an injury, and that’s ok – prove them wrong. I got turned away from several schools when looking to play in graduate school, as they didn’t think I could handle the level of competition anymore. That was ok with me though, because I believed in my own recovery.
Next, whether you play for your parents or work for your family, it’s not selfish to play for yourself or work for yourself. Ultimately, no one is ever going to understand what you have overcome. We all overcome obstacles. People can relate to us and act like they understand what we go through, but they really don’t. No one will ever truly understand the battles I faced for two years of my life, and I am okay with that. My point is, I play every soccer game for myself, and it’s not selfish. This injury brought out the worst in me, but it also brought out the best in me.
I play for the girl who was told she will never walk again. I play for the girl who believed in herself.