Jen Zoltoski is expected to make her 2008 soccer debut in the coming days. It will be an emotional and satisfying moment for the John Carroll senior.
Zoltoski, who plays defense, had to recover from surgery on both legs this summer. She suffered from pain in both legs while playing lacrosse last spring and eventually was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, a condition that results when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This prevents nourishment from reaching nerve and muscle cells.
A surgical procedure was done on both legs in the summer, and Zoltoski then worked hard to rehabilitate and get ready for this year. She's headed to Richmond to play lacrosse next year, but didn't want to sit and watch her senior seasons pass by.
This will be her third year on the John Carroll varsity. Zoltoski also played on the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference indoor soccer championship team last winter.
When did you first realize that you had a problem with your legs?
It was probably in the beginning of lacrosse season, around February. When I was running, in the first eight minutes or so, I would get this intense pain in both of my legs. It kept happening. At first, I thought it was from changing surfaces, going from playing [soccer] inside to being outside. But it wouldn't go away.
Did you play the whole outdoor season?
Yes, I played it. They switched me from midfield to defense. I was lucky enough to be able to play through the pain. I wanted to be on the field because I love playing lacrosse, and it wasn't easy to sit back and watch. I'd rather be helping my team.
Tell me about the decision to have the surgery.
My options were either to sit out like a year or two and see if it got better, or just to quit sports altogether, which I couldn't imagine doing. So I played lacrosse in the summer for the recruiting season, and then had the surgery in July as soon as that season was over.
What was the procedure that was done?
Basically, it was a release surgery, so there's three incisions on each of my legs. They split the sheathing around my muscle on each leg. There's four compartments there, so they had to release all of them. I was kind of in an Ace bandage thing, and I couldn't walk for a week on each leg. It was an outpatient thing.
Were you worried that you might lose some speed or quickness on the field?
Yes, definitely. I'm going to physical therapy three times a week. I've just been really working hard to get that back. I want to be just as strong and fast as I was. Right now, I think I'm doing really well. I think I'm making really good progress. They didn't think, at first, that I'd be ready to play this soccer season, but I guess I've worked very hard and am happy that I'll be back.
How is your speed and quickness at this point?
Right now, I'd say it's about 75-80 percent, but I'm working every day to get it back. But I'm pretty sure that I'll be back to 100 percent in the next couple of weeks.
How much support have teammates and coaches and friends given you and how has that helped?
There's been so much. I don't think I could have gotten through this without my teammates, friends and family. It's been really hard, and whenever I'm down on myself, they bring me back up, and it's great having them surrounding me.