E.A. Sports Today

Big year ahead

After missing all last season with an injury, Sacred Heart’s Vingers back on the field with college choice behind, eager to make up for lost time
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
The 2019 high school soccer season, which for the Sacred Heart Lady Cardinals opens Monday at Collinsville, is a year of redemption and validation for Abbie Vingers.
Redemption for the season she was robbed of last year by an injury playing another sport and validation of her position as the most technically skilled player in Calhoun County.
The senior striker was anticipating a banner year last season after bursting on the scene in 2017, but all those hopes were dashed by a knee injury she suffered in a holiday basketball tournament that required reconstructive surgery.
Determined more than ever to go forward she was back on the field in seven months where most people would take upwards of a year to return.
And as a testament to her value as a player and teammate, Montevallo remained committed to her as a prospect and in November she became the Sacred Heart’s first female athlete to get a college scholarship when she formally signed with the Falcons.
“I think it is (a redemption year),” Vingers said in a recent interview. “Because this is my main year to play and my main year to focus on the sport I want to play, so I think this is probably my biggest year to play and come back from the injury.
“I want to try to make up for as much time I lost in between the (last) winter and the spring. I think I’m making it up pretty well.”
Vingers’ career was moving right along when disaster struck during a game in Talladega County Central’s holiday basketball tournament. She tore the ACL and lateral meniscus in her left (non-shooting) knee.
She knew immediately something was wrong and headed straight for the bench. Instead of thinking that was the end of her playing days, she was determined to come back stronger than ever.
That, of course, was going to take some work. Dr. James Andrews performed surgery in late January, Vingers underwent three months of physical therapy at Jacksonville State, was back on the field in April and one day after being released by the doctors – seven months after the injury – she was on the field playing for her chance to play at Montevallo.
The way she gets around on it now, she said, “it’s like it never happened.”
“She’s worked hard, real hard,” said trainer Brandon Foster, the Sacred Heart assistant basketball coach who rehabbed Vingers at the Anniston Aquatic and Fitness Center. “Gained a lot of strength, muscle; she doesn’t stop.
“You usually don’t see that, even pro athletes (coming back that quickly), you just don’t see that. Her work ethic is off the charts. I honestly didn’t expect her to come in and work that hard, but I can’t stop her from working. She doesn’t want to take a break. She just wants to keep getting it, and I can’t fault her for that.”
Vingers said some of the JSU athletes she rehabbed with, particularly soccer player Dani Monroe who was a little farther along in her program for the same injury, were both encouraging and inspiring.
Montevallo had been in the recruiting picture before Vingers got hurt, but weren’t completely sold on her. Even though she wasn’t close to 100 percent and couldn’t do everything the others could during the prospect camp in July, what she could do impressed the Falcons’ coaches.
In November, she made Sacred Heart school history by signing with them.
“It’s pretty cool that I’m the first girl ever to sign because I didn’t ever think I would be, but I’m kind of happy I am,” she said. “It’s just kind of nice to be the first girl to actually be signing from our school.”
And now that decision has been made she can go into her season of redemption concentrating solely on her game and leading the Lady Cardinals to a special year.
“I’m just excited to get back on the field and be with my team again and play with them, honestly,” Vingers said, running her hand over the scar on her knee she looks at all the time. “Because I missed it last year.”
On the cover: Sacred Heart soccer player Abbie Vingers signed with Montevallo in November. Joining her at the ceremony were (from left) Sacred Heart soccer coach Arnoldo Ostolaza, Fusion SC director Jeremiah Massa, Fusion president Benji Turley and Allen McCreless, Vingers first coach with Jacksonville PARD.

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