Injury doesn’t deter Ridley defenceman
Carmen Elliott’s setback was nothing more than a set up for something even better.
The 17-year-old defenceman for the Ridley College Tigers ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in a game at the end of her Grade 10 season, leaving her future in doubt.
Elliott had been in discussions with several NCAA Division 1 schools at the time of her injury.
“The injury took away some offers,” Elliott said. “What I leaned to the most were the schools that hung on to me during my injury and had faith I would come back stronger than before.”
Elliott did just that, returning to the ice seven-and-a-half months following the injury, proving she was healthy and ready to resume her career.
Surgeons used a ligament from Elliott’s hamstring to rebuild her knee.
“Weight lifting was a big part (of my rehab),” she said. “I couldn’t go back on ice until I had enough hamstring muscle to hold my knee in a comfortable position without putting myself into a jeopardizing position.”
Throughout her rehabilitation, Elliott was impressed by the continued interest of The College of the Holy Cross, located in Massachusetts.
“What made me notice and want to go to Holy Cross even more was how positive the coaches were with my recovery,” said Elliott, who has committed to the D1 school for the 2021-22 season. “They already made me feel like Holy Cross was my home.”
Elliott, who plans to study psychology, feels the school is a perfect fit.
“I love it, it’s a small school,” she said. “My biggest thing I strive for is relationships with people and social interactions. Being at a smaller school you get to know a lot of people more than if you were with 40,000 students.”
Elliott admits she wasn’t sure if she would ever get to this point following her injury.
“My hopes were low. I know any athlete that goes through an injury like that, you lose a lot of confidence in yourself,” she said. “You lose a lot of motivation to keep going. The few people I had around me — coaches, teammates, friends and my family — kept me going and Holy Cross being that school that believed in me and got to know me throughout it all was really import for me.”
Looking back, Elliott feels she came out of situation even stronger.
“I think it gave me a more positive perspective on why I choose the game. I don’t take things for granted anymore. I think it’s given me that positive perspective,” she said. “I’m really grateful for my injury, to be honest. As much as it sucked, it gave me a positive perspective and made me want to work harder day in and day out and I don’t think I would be the athlete I am without it.
“When life hits you hard you just have to be able to bounce back and be stronger. With the injury, I was able to do that.”
Elliott’s final season at Ridley has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID, it’s pretty upsetting the things we’re having to face compared to a normal year but there is light at the end of every tunnel and I’m just excited to see what this tunnel holds,” she said.
Elliott, who hails from Stephenville, NL, came to Ridley in Grade 9 after former Tigers forward Shaylinn Snow, now at St. Lawrence, recommenced her to the staff.
“My heart goes out to her for helping me get here. If I didn’t come here half the opportunities in life I’ve been given I wouldn’t have,” she said.
Ridley coach Amanda Wark will miss Elliott.
“Carmen has spent the last four years with us at Ridley and we have had an opportunity to watch her grow both on and off the ice,” Wark said. “Her passion for the game is evident every time she walks into the rink. Carmen is a player that can change the outcome of the game, she can play in any situation, she is an offensive threat when she has the puck, and a hard nose player to play against when she doesn’t. Carmen is the type of player and teammate you want on your team, and never want to have to play against.
“Carmen is one of the most coachable players I have ever had. She is always looking for honest feedback and then looks to take that information to continue to develop with her site set on getting better every day.”
Elliott feels she will be able to make the adjustment to the NCAA level.
“I think I’m in good position. I’m going to be so determined to elevate my game even more than where it’s at. I know I’m stepping into a completely different world where these women play on national teams. The amount of work I’m going to have to put in is a lot but it excites me because I’m going to become a better athlete. I’m going to be healthier and stronger.
“It’s scary but I’m so excited.”
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