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Wayland Student Press

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Alex Crawford: The comeback kid

Junior+Alex+Crawford+kicks+the+ball+to+a+teammate+while+in+the+midst+of+running+down+the+soccer+field.+After+suffering+an+injury+that+nearly+ended+his+career%2C+Crawford+got+an+offer+from+his+club+coach+to+play+on+the+Major+League+Soccer+%28MLS%29+NEXT+team.+
Credit: Courtesy of Alex Crawford
Junior Alex Crawford kicks the ball to a teammate while in the midst of running down the soccer field. After suffering an injury that nearly ended his career, Crawford got an offer from his club coach to play on the Major League Soccer (MLS) NEXT team.

For some athletes, the worst imaginable scenario is an injury that jeopardizes future opportunities with their sport. For junior soccer player Alex Crawford, this nightmare became a reality his sophomore year.

Crawford tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a preseason game in late August of 2022. During the game that would eventually change Crawford’s sports career, Crawford was dribbling the ball down the field when a teammate of his ran into and kicked Crawford’s knee by accident. The pain was unbearable for Crawford, but the worst part was that Crawford was going to miss his chance to play with his brother, Jake Crawford, for Jake’s final season at Wayland.

“It sucked, knowing I was going to miss playing with my brother for his senior season,” Crawford said.

For young athletes, the worst part about a serious injury could be the surgery that follows, but Crawford was in luck. His surgeon was the National Football League (NFL) Patriots’ very own Dr. Robert Nascimento. Nascimento is the chief of sports medicine for the team and specializes in knee and shoulder injuries. Crawford, knowing he had Nascimento as his surgeon, felt comfortable going into his surgery.

“Going into surgery after this injury I wasn’t scared at all,” Crawford said. “I knew I had the Patriots’ team surgeon, and I felt very good knowing that.”

The recovery process can be difficult for athletes physically and mentally. In addition to the physical limitations they have to face due to their injury, the mental toll of being benched from something they love can be excruciating. The rehab process can call on athletes to focus on their patience while healing, and mental resilience to watching the game go on without them, as well as discipline in order to make a full recovery.

For Crawford, it took a while to get back up to speed. Crawford spent time with a physical therapist so he could focus on rehabilitation, and went to private lessons to work on getting his skill back. Though it was a painful process, Crawford explains that he was still willing to do it so that he could return to the sport he loves.

“The recovery process was very tiring and painful, but all I could do was work hard and do my [physical therapy] to get back on that field,” Crawford said. “I had a regular physical therapist that helped me in the first six months of recovery [by] giving me exercises that I would do at the gym everyday, and after that I started to work with a performance physical therapist who gave me athletic based workouts that I also did.”

For Crawford, the work paid off when he got an offer to play for Major League Soccer (MLS) NEXT Intercontinental Football Academy. Training is already taking place to prepare the team to travel during the whole soccer season. MLS NEXT is a pre-professional, year-round soccer team. Crawford’s contract with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) does not allow him to play both high school soccer and at MLS NEXT, but when Crawford got the offer from his club soccer coach, he knew that MLS NEXT was the right move for his future with soccer.

“My coach offered me a spot on the MLS team for my fall season so I could get the best coaching possible to catch up for all the time I missed my sophomore year,” Crawford said.

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About the Contributor
Vanessa Taxiarchis
Vanessa Taxiarchis, Staff Reporter
Vanessa Taxiarchis, Class of 2026, is a first year reporter for WSPN. Outside of class she likes to play lacrosse, participate in school events, manage the soccer team and hang out with friends. Contact: [email protected]
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