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ACL Club helps athletes cope with emotional loss associated with injuries

Former professional soccer player Jordan Angeli tore her ACL three times. She created a safe space for others to cope with the emotional pain of suffering injuries.

DENVER — Most athletes will tell you an ACL tear or severe knee injury is their number one fear.

"I went through these rehabs and I was like, man this is really difficult!" Former professional soccer player Jordan Angeli said. She was referring to much more than just the physical road to recovery. "As athletes, I think if you ask us to do a task, we're like 'we can do it!' and we'll push as hard as we can, but mentally, man it challenged me very hard, each one in a different way."

Angeli is a former professional soccer player, who had stints in the NWSL for the Boston Breakers, Washington Spirit, and Western New York Flash, and on the National Team for the U-20 team. Her career ended after her third ACL tear on her left knee in 2012.

She said she felt an obligation to help people cope with the mental side of season-ending injuries.

"Our scars tell a story and to use that story for good, to say 'hey this really hurt and this scar can bring about pain when i think about it,' but also use in the future to be a better person, a better athlete, and all of those things."

Angeli founded a company called ACL Club for players to wear those scars proudly and share their stories. While the club is open to everyone, it's clear that some feel more open than others. She wants to change that stigma.

"I think as females, we're taught a little more to feel our emotions than males are, and I am here to say that we all have the same emotions and we all feel the same things," Angeli said. "Whatever it may be to say I'm going to work through it now, instead of pushing it down and suppressing that, it really is beneficial to do it in the moment."

The former Green Mountain High School star drew comparisons to the current climate, where athletes are questioning their athletic futures during the COVID-19 crisis. She says, instead of questioning why you're stuck in your situation, answer how you can be a better athlete when your predicament settles.

"If we choose to go into whatever hardships we have in our life and say, 'hey I'm going to get better through this and i'm going to grow through this,' I encourage athletes who are going through an injury to self-reflect and realize that this is maybe helping them get better instead of tearing them down."

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