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Avery Pollock’s name has been a regular chant at Lower Dauphin High School field hockey games for the past two years.
She’s a natural, who has a knack for reading a play, intercepting the ball, and scoring with a searing tomahawk.
Pollock, a rising senior at the central Pennsylvania high school field hockey powerhouse, stands the chance of missing her entire senior season. She tore both her ACL and meniscus in a lacrosse game in early April.
“The pain hurt for like a second,” Pollock told FAN. “And, then it just kind of went numb and it didn’t hurt at all. It wasn’t hurting as bad up until surgery. I could walk and everything. We went to a trainer, a physical therapist, and he said it looked like it could be an ACL tear. So, we got some MRIs.”
Avery and her mom, Jaime, were hoping for a better report than what they were told. The confirmation was “shocking,” Pollock said.
“I didn’t cry until after surgery and that was from the pain,” she said. “I’ve been positive through most of it. But, I think I’m going to get worse as we get closer to field hockey season. And, I’m going to be missing everything. Right now, I’m pretty good.”
Pollock said she was going to take a shot, when two athletes “kind of squished” her. Her ACL “snapped.”
Her recovery is an estimated six to nine months, she said. Pollock said her focus is on doing what the experts tell her to do.
“I’m someone who is probably going to try to jump in too fast,” she said. “I have a lot of people who are going to try to help me with setting limits. And, stopping me from trying to want to do too much. As much as I’m going to want to do more, I’m going to have to not do as much.”
Pollock’s name is regularly in headlines and featured on “watch lists.”
“I’m going to have a rough time mentally,” she admitted. “But, it’s okay to not be okay. Everyone says that, but it really is. I think through all of this, I’m really going to grow mentally and emotionally from where I already was. I really did use to struggle mentally and now it’s going to be worse. But, now, if I can get that under control, this process is going to help me to be so much better. I can be strong physically. This (injury) is growing me mentally. I think it’s something that athletes don’t really think about. More than half of the game is mental.”
Pollock, who is regularly rehabbing with her physical therapist (surgery was April 17), said she thinks she’s getting through the worst of the physical pain now. The emotional part is going to be more of a rollercoaster of highs and lows, she said.
She’s relying on friends who have also torn their ACLs, she said.
“They’re telling me it might seem like a long time but it’s going to go by really fast. It’s going to be over before I know it. To hear that from people who have gone through the same thing, it’s a reassuring feeling.”
Pollock’s mom has been providing her with motivational books as a way to relate to other elite athletes.
“They’re definitely helping,” she said. “Books about athletes bouncing back. Some Christian faith books that have been helping. My mom has been a big part in keeping me motivated. She has been doing a lot for me. I owe her a lot at the end of this.”
Looking ahead at preseason, Pollock said she’s been talking to the Falcons newly hired head coach Erin Catalfano. Catalfano suggested Pollock help with coaching the squad.
“Coach E says I have a lot of knowledge,” Pollock said. “I’ll get to help out in practices and stuff. I think it’ll be nice that I’m more involved than just sitting and watching. But, I’m really, really hoping to be back by postseason; the beginning of November. That’s my goal. And, it’s not impossible. It could happen.”
Pollock has also made a decision to grey shirt. Grey shirting in field hockey means an athlete graduates high school one semester early. The benefit will allow her to adjust to off-season training with Liberty University, as well as take college courses.
“I just think it’ll be better to go in early and I’ll get to experience classes,” Pollock said. “Adjusting all at once while doing field hockey. It’ll be crazy, but I’ll get to, like, experience college life before getting into the fall season.”
The Flames have been supporting her through her struggle, she said.
“I get texts a lot from the head coach and the players. They have been very sweet and understanding.”
Pollock finished the 2022 season scoring the game-winning goal in overtime versus Wilson. The Falcons won the Class 3A state championship game.
“If I’m not able to get back, last year was a good season,” Pollock said. “As much as I really want to get back, it’s OK. I don’t feel like I’m letting people down. I think they know that I want to get back. They know that I’m trying. I think we’re all upset. I’m upset I’m not going to have my last season with some of my best friends. I’m going to be there physically. But, on the field in spirit.”