John's Journal
Two Knees, Two Lost Seasons: Edina’s Ashlen LeVoir 8/27/2019
Count your blessings. Be grateful for your opportunities, because they can be taken away. Ashlen LeVoir, a senior midfielder on the Edina High School girls soccer team, knows this well. The scars on her knees tell the story: A torn ACL in her right knee before her sophomore season put her on the shelf, and a partial tear of the same ACL prior to her junior year cost her another full season of soccer.

During the second surgery, a portion of the patellar tendon in her left knee was removed and used to stabilize her right knee. She came home with full-length casts on both legs, nearly immobilized and wondering, after missing two seasons, if she would ever play soccer again.

"I was just so angry, I couldn't leave the house for two weeks, I couldn’t bend my legs or anything,” she said. “I was strapped in like a mummy. It was not fun.”

“I cried with her,” said Hornets coach Katie Aafedt. “It was tough and it came like a gut punch. I can’t imagine what it was like for her.”

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) helps stabilize the knee joint, connecting the femur to the tibia. Studies have reported that female athletes are two to 10 times more likely to have ACL tears than male athletes. The odds of blowing the same knee twice in two years? Ashlen doesn’t want to think about it; she just wants to immerse herself in a senior season that -- fingers crossed -- is memorable because of what happens on the field, not off it.

“I try to keep a positive attitude about things,” she said. “They can seem like the worst thing, but then the best thing can come out of it. I’m so happy to be back. It’s been two years too long.”

The Hornets are 2-0 after victories over Minneapolis Washburn and Chanhassen. Ashlen’s minutes on the field are being expanded each week, and her teammates are thrilled to have her back.

“I just can’t imagine how hard that must have been, but she’s always had a smile on her face and a positive attitude,” said senior Abby Swanda. ‘It’s so cool that she’s back and she looks so good, it’s so much fun to watch her play again. Everybody is really happy about it.”

Ashlen was a starter on Edina’s ninth-grade team and on the cusp of playing with the varsity that year, Aafedt said. Her first injury happened during a club soccer tournament. Surgery was followed by grueling rehab and a sophomore season spent as a team manager. She was cleared to play for the summer club season before her junior year, and the second injury took place during club tryouts.

“Same knee, same everything,” she said. “It didn’t feel exactly like the first time I did it because it was a partial tear. That was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. I couldn’t believe it. I just told myself that after all this, something had to come out of it. I tried to keep my head up.”

Ashlen was listed on the varsity roster last year, which helped her maintain a strong connection with her teammates even though she was unable to play.

“We’ve all been playing with her since a young age and we’ve all been friends for life,” said senior Megan Phillips. “It’s cool to see her story unfold.”

Aafedt said, “She attacked rehab both times. To her credit, mentally she was very strong, but she had two, three days where you could tell it was really tough, and then she kind of flipped her mentality to, ‘Let’s do this.’ She’s a very athletic, strong soccer player, very technical, very quick. She’s one of the most hardworking, sweetest kids I know.”

Several of her teammates have finalized college soccer plans, and Ashlen is hoping that even with two lost seasons she will get a similar opportunity.

“I’m trying to see if maybe any colleges need anybody,” she said. “It’s hard because most people have been looked at. Missing two years, I still want to fulfill my soccer career. I’m just taking it game by game; playing 30 minutes this week and it’ll go up 10 minutes each week. I’m taking it slow, hopefully it will turn around and I’ll have the best season.”

Asked if she has felt trepidation about Ashlen playing at full speed, Aafedt smiled and said, “Oh yeah, very much so. The first couple days of preseason I flinched quite a bit when she went near the ball or she was in a situation where she was going to cut or change directions. It was a lot of fun to put her in that first game.”

Ashlen doesn’t wear a knee brace or anything, other than the scars, that would identify her as an athlete who has had knee injuries.

“I’ve been asked if I want to wear a brace, but I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to have it in my brain, I don’t want it to affect how I play. I’m just going into it like I’m doing whatever I can to help the team win. I want to look up, and that’s all behind me now.

“I have all this great stuff ahead.”

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Class 1A Girls Tennis Team Rankings8/25/2019
Provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association.

1 Blake
2 Breck
3 Rochester Lourdes
4 Virginia
5 Litchfield
6 Blue Earth Area
7 St. James
8 Pequot Lakes
9 Minnewaska
10 Osakis
Class 1A Girls Tennis Individual Rankings8/25/2019
Provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association.

1 Arlina Shen (12) Blake
2 Clare Palen (12) Rochester Lourdes
3 Sonia Baig (11) Blake
4 Bella Suk (10) Blake
5 Allison Jay (9) Blake
6 Ally Agerland (10) Holy Family Catholic
7 Avery Stilwell (11) Litchfield
8 Danielle Thorfinnson (12) Minnewaska
9 Elise Bierbaum (11) Litchfield
10 Ellie Pirtle (10) Breck

Class 2A Girls Tennis Team Rankings8/25/2019
Provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association.

1 Edina
2 Minnetonka
3 Mounds View
4 Rochester Mayo
5 Eastview
6 Lakeville North
7 Prior Lake
8 Lakeville South
9 Elk River
10 Mahtomedi
Class 2A Girls Tennis Individual Rankings8/25/2019
Provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association.

1 Nicole Copeland (12) Edina
2 Karin Young (10) Eastview
3 Zoe Adkins (10) Maple Grove
4 Delaney Schurhamer (12) Woodbury
5 Nicole Snezhko (12) Robbinsdale Armstrong
6 Selah Stibbins (10) Washburn
7 Aili Hietala (11) Duluth East
8 Ashley Tarrolly (11) St. Cloud Tech
9 Nikki Ridenour (10) Roseville
10 Annika Elvestrom (10) Minnetonka