If you’re a Charleston Battery fan, you may have seen Defender John Wilson’s photo in some of our recent ads. After learning of John’s success with the Sports Medicine program at MUSC, including his return to playing professional soccer, we wanted to share his inspiring story.
After growing up in Seneca, SC and attending Clemson University, John turned pro in 1999 and played with several teams. While at DC United in the 2007-08 season, he developed tendonitis in his knee; it became so painful, he sought medical help. Good thing he did; the surgeon who repaired his patellar tendon said if he had waited any longer, the injury would have been disastrous.
John was 30 at the time and not knowing how long his recovery might take – and if he would ever be able to play at the same level– DC United let him go. “Professional sports is a cutthroat business,” he acknowledges. He returned to the Upstate and went to rehab in Spartanburg for eight months until his worker’s comp ran out. “I didn’t think I would play again; I thought I was done. It plays with your mind.” Convinced he was not going to be able to play again, he had already applied for a job as a medical sales rep.
Still limping, he met Battery coach Michael Anhaeuser for lunch, who asked him if he wanted to play despite his injury. Anhaeuser knows something of injuries having retired himself as a player due to an ACL tear. John then met with Mike Barr, the Sports Medicine Coordinator at MUSC who in addition to having his doctorate in physical therapy holds multiple soccer coaching licenses. Barr put together a customized plan of stretches and warm-ups. Wilson recalled that Barr was honest and said he might not be as fast – even doing everything he could. “A big part of playing is working with someone I trust. Someone who knows what you’re going through. You want to know where you stand. The coaches want to know where you stand.”
John says that a lot of the young players who get hurt turn to the physical therapists or surgeons and say “heal me.” The reality is it takes some time. And you may not get back.
John has been happy with the help he has gotten: to return to pro soccer after surgery eight years ago, and to keep playing well at 36 years old.
John is more than the sum of his knees and ankles and God-given athletic skills. He is philosophical about his long soccer career. “If you’re not fit, you shouldn’t take the chance. Now I can enjoy the game more.”
When asked if he would choose MUSC for another procedure if he were injured or fell sick unrelated to soccer. “They have taken care of me; I stick with what I know.”
Come join MUSC in supporting John and the Charleston Battery at an upcoming game. Their schedule is available at http://charlestonbattery.com/schedule-schedule/