Sophomore Megan Conder has played sports almost her entire life. Since she was four, she has competed in everything from basketball to soccer to swimming, but she’s found her sport in golf, which she now plays for the University of Oregon.
Over her long athletic career, she’s dealt with a number of injuries, but none as serious as the one she suffered in April 2015.
Conder was leaving a boot camp-style workout class in Gerlinger Hall on University of Oregon’s campus when, as she walked down the stairs, stepped in a hole and felt her right ankle buckle.
“When it happened, it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” Conder said.
Thinking it was only a bad sprain, she continued practicing and preparing for the important summer season. Her family finally noticed something was wrong during the first tournament of the summer, about a month and a half after she injured her ankle.
“When I watched her, I knew she was in serious pain,” Megan’s mother Joleen Conder said.
What Megan didn’t know was that with that step she had chipped a bone in her ankle. According to the X-rays, the bone fragment was floating in her ankle and the surgery needed to remove it would involve operating on her ATL ligament.
The doctor told her that the road back from surgery would be extensive: Six weeks in a cast no weight bearing, four weeks in a boot, finished with four to six months of recovery and therapy.
“I’ve played sports my whole life. I’ve lost, I’ve won, I’ve persevered through a lot,” Megan said. “But one thing I’ve never had to do is have my sport taken from me.”
This was foreign territory for Megan, who in her fourteen-plus years of playing sports had never once had to endure surgery. Even her family was unprepared for news like this. The closest thing to surgery that any of the Conder family has experienced is getting their wisdom teeth removed.
Knowing that her road to recovery would be arguably the hardest thing she would ever experience, Megan recognized that she would have to be mentally tough to get through the upcoming months.
“What people don’t understand is that it’s a huge mental fight,” Megan said.
After under going surgery, Megan returned home to Brentwood, California to spend time with her family and begin the recovery process.
“It’s been a lot of time to myself,” Megan said. “I had to sit at home for four or five weeks over summer doing nothing, just trying to get mentally strong and know it’s gonna be okay.”
Despite being sidelined for the summer, Megan found a way to begin her recovery all on her own. Within a week after her surgery, she had developed a workout routine from videos on Youtube. She had bought five and ten pound weights and was exercising her arms, core, and back daily. Even before surgery she had been working to strengthen her left side in preparation for life after surgery.
“She wants to be in the best physical shape she can be in,” her mother said about her motivation.
Megan hasn’t had to approach her recovery alone though. She credits the overwhelming support she has received from all sources as part of the reason why she is so motivated to return.
“I’ve had so much support from other athletes, my trainers, my friends, my family, even people opening the door.”