Kenwood's Singer regains footing, returning with a healthy outlook

Baltimore County

September 21, 2005|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,sun reporter

While most athletes set lofty goals for their junior years, Kenwood's Ashley Singer has a more modest ambition - to stay on her feet.

If she can manage that, the rest likely will fall into place for the junior, who ranked among the area's elite prep soccer players through half of the past two high school seasons. The sure-finishing, left-footed striker scored 12 goals as a freshman and 10 as a sophomore.

Those 22 goals came in just 16 games. In the eighth game of each season, both times against Perry Hall, Singer tore an anterior cruciate ligament - in her right knee as a freshman and in her left as a sophomore.

She made it through surgery and rehab in time for the club season, taking the field with her Baltimore Bays teammates in March or April.

After the first injury in October 2003, Singer said, she wrestled with doubts about whether she could come back, but there was no doubt the second time around.

"I think I came back stronger than before. I worked harder," said Singer, 16. "I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been."

As a proven scorer and a two-time choice for the United Soccer League Super Y League Olympic Development Program national Select Camp, Singer drew lots of defensive attention even as a freshman. Perry Hall marked her tight that October night, but Singer said it wasn't contact that brought her down.

"I was running down the field with two girls and I just stopped," Singer said. "The way I took my step, my leg just gave out on the top and I felt it go back in."

The previous Thanksgiving, Singer had torn a small nick in her right ACL, but not enough to require surgery. That hadn't hurt. This left her screaming in pain.

"I knew it was something that was going to be more than just a day or two," Kenwood coach Derek Woodward said. "When we got the results, I was worried from a team perspective, but I was worried about her, being a freshman, not being mature and not really knowing how to deal with it. She took it very hard."

Those short autumn days grew long with nothing but school and therapy to look forward to.

"It was a tough time. Soccer is kind of like my life, so it was like, `that's taken away from me,' so all I could do was sit around and watch," said Singer, a Randallstown resident who studies sports medicine in Kenwood's sports science magnet program.

Singer finally stepped back on the field in March for a club tournament. She was eager to play, she said, but afraid of getting hurt again and afraid of not being as good as she had been.

Once Singer discovered she was just as fast and just as skilled, those feelings disappeared. They never returned. Not even after she tore her left ACL last fall when a Perry Hall opponent stepped on her shoelace as she began to pivot.

The pain was just as bad and the days grew long again, but through it all, Singer said, she knew she could come back again.

She said she is not concerned about playing Perry Hall again. Instead of worrying about what might happen, she would rather focus on playing soccer.

"I've grown up," Singer said. "I look at things from a different perspective. I try to take the good and the bad and make the best of every situation. I definitely appreciate soccer more, without a doubt."

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