Junior Drika Bianchin, midfielder for the University of Richmond women’s soccer team, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in less than two years. Bianchin, a native of Brazil, is recovering from surgery and said she hoped to return to the team this spring.
Bianchin re-tore the ligament in the home opening game against Longwood, Aug. 30, and had surgery three weeks ago.
“You know when you sprain something it hurts, but it didn’t go through my head that it was going to be like the first time,” Bianchin said. “It was really a shock when I heard the doctor saying it was an ACL tear. I had a flashback of all the experience and the healing process going through my head, because it’s long. It’s heartbreaking.”
Bianchin credited her teammates for being such a big part of her recovery from the first injury and helping her stay positive the second time around.
“Having my teammates by my side really helped me to get through the six months,” Bianchin said. “Since I don’t have any family here in the U.S., my teammates really are my family.”
Facing a second rehab from the injury has been difficult, Bianchin said, but along with her teammates, her positivity and the knowledge gained from the first injury have helped speed the process along.
“I took a deep breath and said, ‘I did this once, I can do this again,’” Bianchin said.
Bianchin said senior teammate, Kristen Lybert, had been especially helpful in the battle back from her second ACL injury.
Lybert said she had also torn her ACL twice and had used that experience to aid Bianchin’s recovery.
“I think the psychological component is really the toughest part of the situation,” Lybert said. “And I drew from my past experience to help Drika through this rough time.”
Recognizing the increased difficulty mentally and physically in a second recovery from an ACL tear, especially without family nearby, made Lybert and the rest of the team focused on being a support system for Bianchin, Lybert said.
“To be honest, Drika is the strongest and most positive person I know,” Lybert said. “She didn’t need me much. She knows how to look at the bright side and get past the negatives. I really just tried to be there for her and answer any questions she had concerning the upcoming surgery and any of the experiences thereafter.”
Brian Beck, associate athletic trainer, focuses on the women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse teams and has been working closely with Bianchin in her rehabilitation. Beck said it was tough to determine exact return dates because each athlete responds to the recovery work differently.
“Drika is now starting five weeks of rehabilitation in our athletic training room,” Beck said. “She will be allowed to start a running progression around three months.”
Bianchin said her expected recovery time was four to six months, which would have her back in March for the spring soccer season. Currently, Bianchin has her range of motion back and no longer needs crutches. She said she was able to walk on a treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes, bike and do simple exercises to strengthen her legs. The change from everyday practice and being in game-ready shape really tested Bianchin’s mental strength, she said.
“I don’t want to rush anything, because the fall season is more important than the spring season,” Bianchin said. “But the spring will be important for me to work up for the fall season and get back to soccer.
“I really want to make this process as quick as possible. I just want to play. I really want to be back in four months, but I know I’m going to listen to my body.”
Contact staff writer Jeremy Day at firstname.lastname@example.org