The physical scar on Teresa Ledezma’s left knee is barely noticeable, but the impact and the story behind the scar could be life changing for the Skyline senior.
A prolific goal scorer for the Grizzlies as a sophomore two years ago, Ledezma had already established herself as one of the area’s top players and had visions of eventually playing in college.
But those plans took a horrific turn prior to last season.
A torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament, surgery, seven months of excruciating rehab, a missed junior season, followed by that voice in the back of her head wondering if she would ever be as good as the sophomore version of herself that led the Grizzlies’ offense and rattled opposing goal keepers every time she made a charge downfield.
Welcome to 2021.
Ledezma is back to terrorize goalkeepers and the only physical reminder of the past year is a light knee brace.
She says the past year has made her mentally tougher and a better overall player. Yes, the scar and brace are constant reminders of the down times, but her ball handling skills have improved and she still knows how to find the net.
“She’s doing fantastic,” coach Kip Archibald said, noting there may have been some cautious anxiety upon Ledezma’s return.
“As the games have gone on she’s gotten a lot more confident,” he said. “I haven’t seen any change in her. She’s gotten back to where she was; she just has a brace on.”
Ledezma injured her knee playing with a club team in Utah. She remembers taking a sharp cut and hearing a snap.
“I wasn’t scared because I didn’t know what to think,” she said. “It didn’t hurt.”
An MRI revealed a complete tear of the ACL. A month later, Ledezma had surgery to repair her knee. She was on crutches and eventually fitted with a brace.
“I remember going home and sitting on the couch and thinking this is going to be rough,” she said. “Going from playing soccer every day to sitting on the couch and doing nothing. That was rough for me.”
But after months of rehab, Ledezma was determined to return. She went to games to encourage her teammates and began to see the game in a different light. Standing on the sidelines gave her a greater appreciation for the game and fueled her drive to return.
After being medically cleared, she eventually eased her way back into playing, working with her club team. The skills started to return and the concern about reinjuring her knee started to fade, although not completely.
But that’s started to change.
Ledezma and fellow senior Tasha Miller have been playing together for years. The duo was Skyline’s 1-2 punch two years ago and it was unclear how a year off would impact the two’s chemistry.
“Me and Tasha still have that connection,” Ledezma said, noting a game against Bonneville where the two teamed up for a goal just 17 seconds in to the game.
Ledezma said her first goal of the season was a milestone.
“It was great,” she said. “Words can’t describe how excited I was to be back on the field and be able to score.”
If there was any question if there would be a dropoff in scoring after a year away from the game, the numbers speak for themselves.
Ledezma has 18 goals in 10 games. Miller has nine goals and the Grizzlies are off to a 9-0-1 start, 6-0-0 in conference play.
In the bigger picture, Ledezma said she had doubts about playing in college after going through the ups and downs of rehab.
That too is starting to change. She says she’s ready to play at the next level.
But for now, it’s all about finishing off the high school season on a strong note.
“This year it’s good because Teresa’s back and we’re back,” Miller said.