An ACL injury is one of the worst injuries for an athlete. One player on the Keene State College Women’s Soccer team has overcome that not once nor twice, but three times.

Catherine Falcone, known by many as “Cat,” first tore her left ACL during her junior year of high school. However, the first injury did not stop Falcone, as she recovered after six months. Then, she was a freshman on the Owls soccer team, until her second left ACL tear shut her down. Falcone once again recovered, this time though, it took eight months. But again, luck was not on her side as she tore her left ACL once again while trying to recover at the end of her sophomore year.

As a result of that injury, Falcone was out for her entire junior season; she was the team manager. Falcone said being on the sidelines watching made her want to return to action.

“When I was team manager and I sat on the sidelines and saw them playing, I said, ‘I want this back in my life.’ It’s not the same thing being on the sidelines, just watching,” Falcone said.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor: Falcone kicks the ball up-field in a home match against the Castleton Spartans on October 7.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor: Falcone kicks the ball up-field in a home match against the Castleton Spartans on October 7.

According to Falcone, the first time was the worst of her rehabilitation stints.

“I had no idea how hard and difficult it was going to be.” Falcone recalled one of her biggest memories of rehab, which came from her doctor roughly three days after her surgery. “He said, ‘I want you to start doing exercises on your own, just single leg lifts.’ I could not lift my leg and it is something that people could do so easily and I started crying because I wasn’t going to be able to get back,” Falcone said.

Falcone said that first stint helped her next two rehab experiences. “My second and my third rehab were a little easier because I knew what to expect and I knew how hard I had to work in order to play,” Falcone said.

But her recovery still is not over. “Honestly this [injury], I am still recovering,” Falcone said.

Still Falcone attributes her successful recoveries to her family and mother.

“[My mom] was my crutch throughout my three surgeries, she literally would do anything for me and supported me. Even when people said I shouldn’t play anymore she said, ‘If you want to do it, you go out there and do it,’ she believed in me,” Falcone said.

Falcone’s mother, Nancy Falcone, said that her daughter did all the work and she was there for moral support. “Being there for moral support, that is all I could do. She did everything else, she did the physical work, the mental work,” Nancy said. “I was just there when she felt she couldn’t do it or take the next step, and I was like, come on you can,” Nancy said.

Nancy said she is very happy that her daughter was able to do rehab and make the team.

“You can’t say I regret not doing this, I think it was well worth it,” Falcone said.

Falcone’s teammates and friends talked about her great work ethic and decision for her to come back. Senior Jessica Berthiaume and senior captain Kelsie Bailey are Falcone’s roommates and know her struggles, but also know her dedication.

Berthiaume said, “She is always in the gym, she is very determined, she never missed any of her rehab stuff.” Berthiaume also didn’t know how she would respond in Falcone’s shoes. “I don’t know if I would be able to come back three times. I think it shows a lot of dedication from her and determination,” Berthiaume said.

Bailey has lived with Falcone since second semester of their freshman year. Bailey saw the pain Falcone was going through.

“She was in a lot of pain. Having to help her do stuff whether it was getting a couple things. Watching her go to physical therapy or rehab everyday,” Bailey said.

Bailey has always stood behind her for encouragement. “I’m going to encourage her to do it if she thinks she can do it, I’m not going to stop her. We always put the precaution out there, “Cat you could get hurt, it could happen to you again,”” Bailey said.

Like Berthiaume, Bailey did not know if she could have come back like Falcone.

“I don’t know if I could physically do it, to put myself into a situation where I can get hurt a fourth time, just knowing that I have the rest of my life to live after college too, I don’t think I could do it. I am so proud that she was able to do it and she has confidence in herself to do it,” Bailey said.

During game action, Falcone wears a knee brace. The brace does not affect her, but mentally she said it makes her stronger.

“I have had three braces and all of them are difficult to cut, sliding down, it never fits me perfectly but in a way it makes me push myself harder. I know I need to be that much more attentive and strong to show people I might have this knee brace but it doesn’t matter to me,“ Falcone said.

Head coach Denise Lyons attributed Falcone’s recovery to her dedication and said her recovery has to do with her character. “A dedicated athlete worked hard to regain her strength and come back from three surgeries and still play, it’s rarely seen.”

Lyons also said she could not recall anyone with that much dedication.

“I’ve never had a player like that who has that much dedication, she is an inspiration,” Lyons said. In addition, by not giving up it helped her. “She is a true example to never give up and that you can achieve your goals,” Lyons said.

Lyons was also impressed with Falcone’s role with younger players. “She brings a great work ethic to the team that rubs off on some of the younger players,” Lyons said.

“She is not getting a whole lot of playing time right now, but when she goes in she knows what her role is,” Lyons said. Lyons called Falcone “a true leader both on and off the field with the younger players.”

Lyons classifies Falcone’s play as aggressive. “She is a very physical player, very aggressive.”

Falcone agreed with Lyons definition of her play.

“I think she is pretty accurate. I would say pretty fearless, I don’t think twice about my injuries while I am out there. She calls me up to play, she says ‘you go out there and be the enforcer’ and that’s what I am known for. My aggression and my heart,” Falcone said.

Falcone has a limited role for the Owls this season.  As of October 18, she has only appeared in four games. In addition, before the start of the season, Falcone had to make the team.

“Cat proved she wanted to be part of this team and she has contributed. It’s not keeping her just because she is on the team because she played well and does the things we ask her,” Lyons said.

Falcone said she is very happy that she has recovered and humbled to be on the team her senior year.

She also understands her role.

“I’m happy to be on the team and I’m happy for the amount of time that I am getting,” Falcone said. ”In my heart and my mind I wish I was doing more but I know physically that this is the best I can be doing,” Falcone said.


Brian Clemmenson can be contacted at

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