Conditions + Treatments
Growing up in Texas
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I grew up with very supportive parents and one sister, who encouraged and motivated me to follow my dreams. My parents both served as principals in my schools until I got to high school, so academics always took priority over athletics in our household.
When I was 4 years old, I started playing soccer. As a kid, I participated in gymnastics, volleyball, basketball. You name it, and I played it. However, I fell in love with soccer and it became my passion.
When I was in 3rd grade, I transitioned to a more competitive team. The coach of that team saw my potential and said, "if you stay with us, you’ll go on to play Division I soccer." Fortunately, I stayed committed to that coach and team until I was 18 years old. When I was a sophomore in high school, I verbally committed to the University of Alabama to continue my academic and athletic career.
University of Alabama - My ACL Injury
I started as a freshman on the Alabama soccer team. It was a rough season for me because played the forward position. In high school I played attacking mid, so it was a weird transition.
As a sophomore, I continued to play the forward position. The COVID-19 pandemic hit spring of my sophomore year and we split the season, playing all of our SEC games in the fall and non-SEC games in the spring.
In February 2021, our spring season just started, and we were playing our first game of the season versus Columbus State. During the early part of the game, I was dribbling the ball down the field, when a player on the opposing team came to push the ball away and her foot caught my leg.
I came down on my right leg and heard a pop. It felt like someone shot my kneecap and it blew out. I thought, “please don’t let it be my ACL.” I have been around girls on my team who have had their ACLs torn, and you truly are never prepared when it’s you.
My ACL Reconstruction Surgery
Our Alabama athletic trainer scheduled an appointment with our team orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Lyle Cain in Birmingham. Dr. Cain examined my knee and initially thought it could be a sprained MCL; however, he recommended and ordered an MRI.
I thought, “oh great, I’ll be back at it in 3-4 weeks.” My coach and I were talking in the elevator and we both laughed and thought, there is no way it would be my ACL. The MRI results came back, and I had indeed torn my ACL. I couldn’t believe it and I knew I had a long road ahead of me.
On February 25, 2021, Dr. Cain performed my ACL reconstruction surgery. He was awesome when he came into my pre-op room that morning. I enjoyed seeing him and his calm demeanor definitely made me feel better about the situation.
He is very personable and explained everything to me. With the athletes he has seen, me included, he is almost like a “rehab Santa Claus.” We all waited to see when we would be cleared and when we would get the good news.
The recovery was pretty challenging. I had a hard time building up muscle again and I had some tendonitis. I had the surgery done in February and stayed in Alabama all summer doing rehab. I wanted to get better, so I pushed through. It was slower than I expected. It took me about 4 months to be able to jog without a limp.
It was hard because I couldn’t go home to Dallas, and I was by myself. It was definitely both mentally and physically hard on me. I did enjoy going to rehab because they became like my family for the summer. I didn’t mind it and wanted to go because I wanted to get better quickly, and I also enjoyed the company.
I was cleared to play the 4 games that were left in the season. Luckily, I had a 5th year available to me because of Covid so I knew I would be able to play more. In that next game I played, I pulled my quad and I had to be out for 2 games. I was then cleared again to play with 2 games left.
Fast forward a little to my senior season. We were about to play against Kentucky, and I had been cleared to play. We were having a pre-game meal and my coach came up to me and asked if I had made my decision if I was going to red shirt. I said I wanted to play, and he didn’t think that was a good idea.
I said I would make the decision later and we made our way to the field. We started warming up and I still didn’t want to make that decision. Finally, my coach looked at me and said, “are you good to go?” I didn’t give an answer and he knew. He looked at my other 2 teammates and told them to warm up.
It was then that I knew I probably shouldn’t play. I started thinking of all the “what-ifs” and if I was willing to sacrifice a whole season just to play in this one game. From then on, I never stopped trying to get better. I healed up and was able to play in the next season.
After my last season, I played in spring and summer leagues, I got married, and now I am able to enjoy playing soccer so much more. The first game of fall 2022, I played with no brace.
I thought back to that last game I almost played and knew I wasn’t ready even though I wanted to play so bad. If it wasn’t for Andrews Sports Medicine and Dr. Cain, I wouldn’t be playing soccer the way I am today.
I would 100% recommend Andrews! Anyone that goes through anything should definitely come here. The way they took care of me was a truly amazing experience!
Unbelievable 2022 Season
Our team went on and made it to the final 4. We had a 4-overtime win against North Carolina and were ranked number 11 in the country! I was blessed to win Forward of the Year after ending the regular season and was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year. I couldn't have accomplished any of this without the support from my family, my coach and team, and Andrews Sports Medicine and Dr. Cain.
Incredible Player, Incredible Teammate, Incredible Year
Check out Riley Mattingly Parker's journey as she went from a redshirt season to Alabama's leading goal scorer. #RollTide pic.twitter.com/pInSy7Hk99
— Alabama Soccer (@AlabamaSoccer) October 12, 2022