What it Means to Be Tough From Head to Heart

June 02, 2014, 4:55 a.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team athlete Julia Reinprecht blogs from the 2014 Rabobank World Cup and talks about overcoming odds to compete on the international stage in Holland. 

For those of you who watched our first game against England and wondered what #12 is wearing on her head, hopefully this blog post will clear up some questions.

My name is Julia Reinprecht, a defender on the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team.  For me, this past year leading up to the World Cup has been a crazy one. I split time between completing my final year at Princeton University (ironically, today is my Graduation Day!) and training with the team at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. in preparation for the World Cup.  I also was overcoming an injury I sustained while competing with my collegiate team in the fall.  On November 11th, I was hit in the side of the head with a field hockey stick.  I didn’t really know what happened at the moment; I had retained my memory, but I was a bit worried by the pain I was experiencing. I was diagnosed with a concussion and was unable to return to that game or any other collegiate game in my career. I stayed that weekend in College Park, Md. to cheer on my team, and when I returned home, I got a CAT scan to get a closer look at my injury.  The results of the CAT scan showed a skull fracture and a subdural hematoma, forcing me to go to the hospital immediately for overnight monitoring.  

Fortunately, the overnight results showed that the hematoma was not growing, and I was able to return home.  I spent the next couple weeks at home, pretty isolated from anything stimulating to the brain (Although I pride myself on not being too dependent on my cell phone, I realized very quickly how hard it is to avoid using it, and other electronics, like the TV). Ultimately, I recovered well, but did suffer from severe migraines that put me back temporarily in the emergency room. During this up and down period, I really did not know what would become of my field hockey career after this injury, but I tried to stay positive.  However, ever since, I have been on the mend. I was able to resume classes, return to physical workouts and individual training after two months, complete my senior thesis at school, and after four months, I was back training full time with the team. 

What I wear on my head today is the final product of some experimentation with various headgear prototypes. I must wear it for extra protection because the skull fracture has not yet completely healed; however, I do not suffer from any other side effects from my injury and I was able to heal quite nicely.  For that, I must thank my teammates, my coaches, trainers, friends and family who all supported me in my dreams to still make the World Cup Team despite this setback. As my mom and dad reminded me recently, this experience shows that a team has the power to heal. This team and this opportunity made me fight harder to come back from my injury, and I am incredibly grateful to have this experience.