From Disaster to the Diamond; Ortiz and Aldridge's Road to Recovery

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Feb. 17, 2014

By Kapri Angotti

FRESNO, Calif. - Experiencing a season-ending injury is not something any athlete wants to endure, but for Brooke Ortiz and Kiley Shae Aldridge their biggest fear became a reality.

During winter break of 2012, Aldridge was diagnosed with a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) after an incident on a trampoline at Skywalk. Not long after, in fact approximately 2 months after, Ortiz was exposed with the same horrifying news.

"I think it was most shocking for me because when it happened on the field I could walk off, it felt fine so getting the news was heartbreaking," Ortiz said.

"In both of their cases, they experienced excessive rotation of their tibia that damaged this ligament," athletic trainer Colin Mulligan stated. "Unfortunately to compete at the level they both are accustomed to, ACL reconstruction surgery was required."

Ortiz had been a starter for the Bulldogs all three years of her career until the season ending injury struck her at the beginning of her junior season, forcing her to watch from the sidelines.

"Honestly, it was really hard at the beginning because I felt almost like I couldn't do anything for the team, but it was almost like a determination booster, seeing them out there and playing so well, it made me want to get back out there as soon as I could," Ortiz said.

Aldridge, a transfer from University of Arizona, was about to start her second season as a Bulldog.

"It took me over a week to come to terms with the fact that my whole life was about to change," she recalled.

This was very true, the process of rehab after an ACL surgery is not an easy situation to be thrown into and extremely life changing for any athlete.

"When you first have your surgery you basically have to relearn how to walk again, so you have to start from the very basics," Aldridge explains. "I spent hours trying to learn how to walk up and down stairs."

Mulligan worked with Ortiz and Aldridge during their entire process of rehab. Day in and day out they worked towards their goal of one day joining their team back on the field.

"Most days were more mentally challenging than physical," Aldridge said.

Even Mulligan agrees that this rehab is overwhelming.

"If you don't have the mental strength and understanding of what you're doing to push through that and understand that it's worth it, it's very, very difficult to overcome because you get critiqued on the smallest of things," he explained.

Although, the two Bulldog teammates were forced with this season-ending tragedy, they had each other to push themselves in a positive direction.

"When I was struggling she knew exactly how I was feeling so I had that comfort from her," Ortiz said of Aldridge.

Not only did they have each other, but they had their athletic trainer Mulligan, who had been pursuing a masters in sport psychology, to help motivate and guide them through the tough rehab process as well.

"My athletic trainer Colin was literally a Godsend," Aldridge exclaims. "He was so helpful in calming me down and doing certain things to help me understand how important everyday was."

The 2014 Bulldog softball season has officially kicked off and with the completion of the first first two weeks of the season. Both Ortiz and Aldridge were back in the lineup.

"I could tell you I was pretty anxious," Ortiz laughs. "But seeing what our team is capable of doing and having these abilities, it took me out of the fact that I did tear my ACL."

Ortiz wasn't the only one who forgot about her injury. Aldridge also explains that she didn't realize that it had been a whole year since surgery.

"I didn't really think about my situation individually until after the game because of course during the game I was just like `let's get out there and lets do this.' "

Needless to say, Ortiz and Aldridge were excited to be back on the field with their team and play Bulldog softball. The duo has helped the 'Dogs get off to a 8-2 start to the season after going a perfect 5-0 over the weekend in the Fresno State Kick-Off Tournament.



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