In sports, injuries are, unfortunately, inevitable. Whether you have played for one year of 10, injuries can happen at any moment. Even if you are in peak physical shape, one bad turn or twist can take you out for a couple of days, weeks, months, even years.
Westmont’s senior midfielder Brooke Porter knows all about injuries.
Porter has been playing soccer since she was five years old. In over 10 years of playing, she had never experienced a real injury.
That is, until her senior year of high school when she tore her ACL.
“It was the first time I ever had to step away from soccer,” Porter said.
“It was crazy.”
For years, Porter had known herself as one thing: a soccer player. The sudden shock then of having to miss her entire senior year hurt her.
“That really threw me for a loop. That injury was the hardest one I think of them all, just because my whole identity and everything was in soccer,” Porter said.
The injury could not have come at a worse time either as she was still in the midst of her recruiting process. She had dreams of playing soccer at the collegiate level, but suddenly all the colleges she did have interest from decided to look elsewhere.
“That was definitely hard. I really was bummed out. All of a sudden people are like ‘we can’t promise you a scholarship’ or ‘we can’t promise you a spot,’ because they don’t know if you are going to be able to come back. It was definitely a challenge,” Porter said.
All in all, Porter described it as “the worst year of her life.”
“Soccer is my way of dealing with things in soccer It’s like my outlet and when I didn’t have that I really had to search a little bit and kind of figure out who I was outside of it,” Porter said.
Luckily, there was one school that still showed interest in Porter, Westmont. In the beginning, Porter said she had very little interest. She had dreams of playing at a Div. 1 school and taking soccer as far as she could, but as the other schools lost interest, her faith in Westmont grew.
“They followed through, thankfully. They said ‘We still want you, regardless of the injury. You’ll come back strong and you still have a spot on our team,’” Porter said.
And just like that, Porter decided to continue her playing career at Westmont. She knew it was a tough road to recovery but she was excited to take the field her freshman year. It drove her.
She was excited to live her dream of taking the field of a collegiate game.
Unfortunately, that moment didn’t come her freshman year. It never even came her sophomore year. No, unfortunately, what awaited Porter was more injury and more heartbreak.
Her first year as a Warrior, Porter tore her meniscus and in her sophomore year, she re-tore her ACL on the same knee as her senior year of high school.
“Honestly, each time it was the craziest of mishaps like it should have never happened any of the times and I got really frustrated with the whole process and thought why me?,” Porter said.
“I got mad at God for a little while because I just did not understand why I had to go through it.”
The rehabilitation process is a long one. It felt even longer for Porter who had now done it for three straight years, of which the mental wear of rehab truly started affecting her.
“I spent all of my rehabs all by myself up here. My parents can’t really come up too often it definitely was hard. I am just going through it alone and it feels just isolated,” Porter said.
While Porter described her senior year of high school as the hardest of her life, she also considers her sophomore year as one of the more difficult things she has had to go through.
“I thought I was done. I called my parents and told them I was done with soccer. I was going to transfer and just focus on school and that I just could not do this anymore,” Porter said.
Lucky for her, her father, Cliff Porter, didn’t accept his daughter’s decision. Instead, the two talked it out and reminded her of what she really set out to do by even attending Westmont.
“Up to that point I had never even set foot in a collegiate game and he was like ‘Is that something you want for yourself? Is that something you want to say you have done?’ and so I responded yes. He really helped me figure out what I wanted,” Porter said.
And, just like that, after one conversation Porter refocused herself one final time. She went through the rehab process again and this time, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
On August 11, 2018, Westmont took on UC Santa Barbara in its annual scrimmage match before the end of the season. For the other Warrior juniors,’ it was just another game.
For Porter, it was a dream come true: a chance to finally play on a collegiate field.
“It was surreal. I can see the whole day like it was yesterday. With the lights going and the energy high,” Porter said.
“I just had so much joy.”
Unfortunately, Porter would not leave the game the same way she came in: healthy. In the second half, Porter broke her fibula and tore some ligaments. Just like that, another season was taken away from her.
As she was being taken away by an ambulance, however, she was not devastated. She was upset that it happened again, but she was eager to go through rehab.
“I got a taste of how much I love this and this is what I wanted to be doing and that got me through junior year,” Porter said.
One more time, Porter’s patience paid off. Although she was nervous before the start of her senior campaign, she took it day by day. It’s worked out.
The Warriors lost 2-1 in their season opener, but Porter experienced her first true happiness out on the pitch in a long time. She even scored the team’s only goal in the loss. She would add two more in Westmont’s 5-0 win over Marymount.
Since then, she’s been a key reason why the Warriors finished the season 13-2-1, clinched a share of the GSAC title for the first time in her career, and are now on their way to Huntington Beach, Ala., the site for the NAIA Tournament where Westmont will take on Science and Arts (Ok.) today at 1:30 p.m.
“It’s a dream. This is literally what I have dreamt about for the last four years. For this to be the season we win a GSAC title, and go to Huntington Beach after missing out last year and even beating the No. 1 team in the country. It’s just been a dream,” Porter said.
Despite having little interest at the start, Porter’s decision to attend Westmont has become a dream come true.
“This is exactly where I was meant to be. And here’s it was a crazy way that got me here, but I have been so blessed to be here on this team. It’s been unreal,” Porter said.
And, even if Westmont did not attain the success it did, the fact that Porter has had a chance to just truly enjoy her final season has made all the pain worth it.
“This has been everything. Seeing my parents cheering me on, my friends, I don’t know if it could get better,” Porter said.
“I was really mad for a long time but this year, being able to play again, being able to have so much joy and feelings I can’t explain and it’s so much sweeter because I did go through all that. I just praise God because I see how fortunate I am to play this sport and especially with these girls.”