Published: November 4, 2010
Chandler Hoffman is an up-and-coming star striker for the No. 13 UCLA Bruins. After a promising club career with Birmingham United, Hoffman enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign in which he finished second on the Bruins team in scoring.
His sophomore season, however, has been full of challenges including going through physical rehab for a broken left fibula. Back in action, Hoffman gives us a first-person account of how he has overcome one of the biggest obstacles of his career.
It has been quite the rollercoaster ride for me this year.
I spent my summer preparing for the season by training with the LA Galaxy and playing in the PDL with the Orange County Blue Star. After working on finishing with Edson Buddle and taking crosses from Landon Donovan and David Beckham I felt like this was going to be a breakout season for me on the college scene.
Unfortunately, things changed when I broke my left fibula on the first day of preseason. Little things that I took for granted like walking and standing on one leg were quickly taken from me. It was literally like starting all over.
Injuries are a process. I spent the first few weeks on crutches and then progressed to walking in a boot, which was eventually followed by relearning how to walk. All this while I’m watching from the sideline as the season was passing me by. With soccer gone, a huge part of my life was missing: the joy of walking on the field under the lights; the smell of the grass, and the elation of scoring a goal.
Athletes have a tendency of pushing the envelope when it comes to recovering from injuries. In my mind, when the doctor said 8-10 weeks I was shooting for six. Mentally it was so tough to stay positive and focused. I tried to picture each day before I went into the training room for hours of rehab - the immense happiness I would experience the moment I stepped back onto the field. These thoughts and the encouragement from my coaches, family, and friends kept me working hard each day to get back and better than ever. I spent numerous hours swimming in the pool, on the stationary bike, and in the weight room.
I think with the right attitude you can truly build mental toughness when times get tough. I am now 10 weeks post injury and am playing in games once again. I am hoping to regain top form and fitness by NCAA tournament time. What this entire process has taught me is that it is a privilege and not a guarantee to play this beautiful game and to not ever take it for granted. Ultimately, life is full of obstacles, and soccer requires a lot from a player both mentally and physically, but how you respond to the difficult times in your life will determine your success and character.