BELLVILLE — Jordyne Helinski experienced her worst fear on a soccer field.
Healthy throughout her high school career, the two-time All-Ohio forward at Clear Fork always worried about tearing her ACL, an all-too-common knee injury in girls soccer.
“It was my biggest fear,” she said. “After that, I’m probably done, and that’s the scariest thing ever.”
That fear became a reality on Sept. 11 during a drill in practice.
“During practice, I went for the ball on someone’s right foot and planted my left leg and went to turn to my right where it was kicked, and my leg didn’t go with me, so I just fell and it buckled. It popped and I knew it happened,” Helinski said.
A veteran of soccer, she’ s seen enough teammates and opponents go through it. A recent Nationwide Children’s Hospital study found football players and girls soccer players were at the highest risks for ACL tears than competitors in other team sports. Many studies have found girls are four to five times as likely to tear their anterior cruciate ligaments than boys.
Helinski is just the latest statistic.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Lexington girls soccer coach Roxanne Drueschler said. “It’s always heartbreaking to see that happen to a senior. You want them to play.”
It’s especially troubling when it happens to a player as talented as Helinski and one with as bright a future as she has. The all-time leading goal scorer at Clear Fork verbally committed after her sophomore season to play women’s soccer at Wright State.
“For the last two weeks, I’ve thought about all that I’ve lost with my team and my senior year, but I think college is more important to me and being successful there and doing the good things there,” she said.
Helinski is learning that just because she’s injured doesn’t mean her soccer career is finished. The offer remains to come to the NCAA Division I program in suburban Dayton.
“They’re fine with it,” she said of her conversations with head coach Pat Ferguson and his staff. “They said it happens all the time and that they actually have a couple of girls with torn ACLs. He said they are getting better and already biking and they just had surgery a month ago. Hopefully, I’m biking in a month.”
Helinski was given more reassurance from Dr. Peter Edwards, of Orthopedic One in Columbus, who successfully performed the surgery Friday. He’s operated on members of the Columbus Crew as well as scores of college and high school players, and he sat down and gave her the odds of re-injury with the different surgical techniques.
Helinski went with one that will be more painful after surgery but would give her a stronger knee afterward.
“He said it’s probably going to be stronger than my other one because of the way they are doing it. Almost 90 percent of the people that get it done this way, it’s not going to tear again,” she said.
The physician’s assistant gave Helinski more hope when she said Edwards operated on her ACL and she was able to come back and play soccer without injury at Ohio State.
Still, six or seven months of intense therapy will be her new reality
“You can’t strengthen what is there. You have to strengthen everything that’s around it, which I know will be hard, but it will get done,” she said.
In fact, that was her initial thought after she felt the unmistakable pop in practice.
“I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got some work to do,’ ” she said.
Her coach Brittany Bechtel wasn’t as sure.
As a coach at Clear Fork for the past 10 years, she’s seen 10 of her players go down with the same injury. None of them got back up on their own. Yet Helinski immediately jumped into another drill, but her knee was too unstable even if there was no real pain.
“Jordyne played in eighth grade on a broken ankle and didn’t realize it, so her pain tolerance is unlike anyone else. That could be what fed into it,” she said.
A trip to the doctor the next morning suggested it was an ACL injury, either a strain or a tear. An MRI three days after the injury confirmed the worst.
“That hits you in the stomach pretty hard,” Bechtel said. “I think, as a team, we’ve been in shock for a while; not just her, we all felt that. Unfortunately, she’s the one that has to live it.”
Last week, she participated in senior night festivities, earning a start before being lifted from the game seconds after. She’ll continue to be on the sidelines supporting her teammates as they try to win an Ohio Cardinal Conference championship and make another long tourney run.
“I think Jordyne is going to be a huge part of our team still. She’s just got to work her way into knowing that her role has changed, but she is as important as she’s always been,” Bechtel said.
It’s Helinski’s new reality.
“I’m all right with it,” she said. “The first week I was like, ‘What the heck? Why?’ But the Wright State coaches said they’d still love to have me and they’re not going to change the scholarship.”