Thursday, September 5, 2013
Richmond's two-sport phenom Wann will make the best of playing just one
We blame the pogo stick.
A week ago Becca Wann had a Richmond soccer season in front of her. The All-American forward, who is also a decorated basketball player for the Spiders, spent the summer pondering a professional career in the soccer. Now Wann's soccer career is over given yet another concussion, sustained during the season-opening tournament at James Madison.
That made for too many concussions the neurologist told her last Friday in advising Wann, who earned a Gold Medal in the 2012 FIFA World Championship in Japan, about the implications of continuing to play soccer.
"I've been trying to stay positive," Wann says, a senior, whose 34 goals rank her second in career scoring at Richmond. "What are you going to do? It's definitely something I'm still trying to wrap my head around, but the way I look at it is I had an incredible 14-year career. If I focus on the little bit that I didn't get, I'll have trouble remembering the good stuff. Although it ended in a way I thought was prematurely, I know I'm going to be OK. My identity is not in soccer. It's not in basketball. I'm going to be OK. It's just tough to transition out of it."
Wann estimates she's had four or five concussions playing soccer at Richmond (none thus far in basketball). Then there's that nasty one that came when she was 10 years old on Christmas Day. The culprit: the new pogo stick.
"At this point in my life, I wish my parents hadn't gotten me that present, so I'd have one more to spare," she says. "We returned the pogo stick the next day."
The concussion sustained on Aug. 25 in the last six minutes of a game against Old Dominion wasn't immediately obvious to Wann, whose head collided with another ODU player.
"I got a foul called against me," she says. "I thought if felt kind of weird. But I wasn't dizzy. I didn't
black out. I was hoping it would go away. On Wednesday night, after having a headache for the last couple of days, I told myself if I wake with a headache, I'm going to tell. I woke up and had one.
"Deep down, I knew I was at the limit. I was trying to avoid this."
Wann sat through Richmond's game last Friday against Longwood realizing she would never be on the field again. She broke the news to her teammates on Saturday.
"I blindsided them," she says. "The team has been very supportive, incredible."
While Wann might not be playing soccer anymore, she still plans to be at every practice.
"I told them I'm not going anywhere; I just won't be in cleats," she says. "I talked to (basketball) Coach (Michael) Shafer, and with this being my last year, I didn't want to miss anything soccer. I'm not going to not go to soccer practice to go to basketball practice. We talked about it and he told me to take my time and do what I need to do."
The new Wann won't be scoring anymore, but she will still be part of every aspect of the team possible. She'll encourage, pick up cones, shag balls, whatever she can do to make the Spiders season successful. Earlier this week, she and her Richmond teammates were in D.C. to watch the U.S. National Team against Mexico at RFK Stadium.
"It's hard not being on the field and having the on-field leadership," she says. "But there's so many other things that can be done. Having seen Rachael Bilney and Kara (Powell), there were so many people on the basketball team that found a role" after injury.
Unless the concussion lingers -- which Wann doesn't expect given the progress she's already made -- she should be healthy for basketball.
Wann, who will graduate in the spring, is weighing her options after college now that a pro career in soccer won't be happening. She's considered an internship through a church, getting a job working soccer camps or perhaps more college.
"For me, this is a door shutting, and even though it's painful, in the long run, it's one less decision I have to make because it was made for me," she says. "When God closes a door, it opens a window, and that's what I'm telling myself. I'm not stressed out or worried about it because I know it will work out."