Markum Talks Long Term Effects of High School Sports Injury
Russian-born midfielder Kate Markum (Ludmila Viktorovna Filimonova) was like any high school soccer hopeful: she played with the love of the sport in mind. Her childhood was constant conditioning for her spot on the Forest Hills High School Women’s Varsity Soccer Team where she quickly found faith in her coaches’ ability to teach her.
“I played soccer since my early youth, roughly kindergarten or preschool,” said Markum. “It may be a European thing, but I knew it was the perfect fit for me when I stepped foot on the field for the first time. The field was my home. I then conditioned myself by my coaches’ guidance. What (they) directed us to do is what we did and it was always pretty successful.”
Markum earned her spot on the Forest Hills team and helped lead them to an 11 - 9 season in 2014 with one goal and five assists, though she would only play 14 of the 20 games. On September 11th, 2014 during the second half of her match against rival Central Cambria, she would suffer a serious injury that would put her on crutches.
“In the middle of my senior year, I tore my MCL at first and then I tore my meniscus. I remember my coaches and fellow teammates being extremely worried about my injury as I left the field that day. They said it was serious. I just wanted to make sure I could play again,” said Markum.
Markum, though, was not content on the sidelines. She spent every moment she could trying to heal her knee and strengthen it enough to be able to play on the home field one last time before she graduated high school in the spring.
Pushing her body to the limit, she recalls the pain she felt as she attempted to regenerate her muscles in rehabilitation.
“I had to do a lot of different stretches and lift weights. I hated the stretches since I do not have that mobility in my knee anymore. It was painful and really the worst part of the rehab process. It may have helped me get back out there, but I hope I never feel that again,” said Markum.
Though she was able to play minimally in the final games of the season, Markum never was the athlete she was before the injury. This lead her to make the decision to have her knee operated on to hopefully help cease the pain she was feeling.
“My surgery was to repair my meniscus and it was optional, but difficult because my patella is small,” said Markum. “I assumed it was the best option to help my injury and went forward with it anyway. I was put under for a few hours as they stitched it back together, (which) resulted in even more rehabilitation during my first semester of college.”
Currently, Markum is attending the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown where she is completing her coursework for a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Communication while working as a part-time customer sales representative at Lowe’s Home Improvement. It has been nearly four years since her injury on the soccer field, but the effects are still causing havoc in her everyday life.
“Lifting causes a stiff pain in my knee and I feel a grinding sensation,” said Markum. “I have chronic knee pain and I cannot bend it to its fullest capacity anymore.”
Even though she once wished to play soccer during her college career, Markum hasn’t been on the field since the conclusion of her senior season. She fears adding more damage to her meniscus and is already beginning to worry about aging and arthritis being a potential hurdle in her older years.
Markum is calling for a change in coaching to help younger players not suffer the same career-ending injury she did.
“Chronic pain with a laboring job is difficult and I wish there would’ve been more protection or a foul listed for my injury. It was caused by my foot hitting another girl’s foot at an angle that made me twist and fall down, that’s what initially tore my meniscus,” said Markum. “I wish there were more safety precautions given and different tricks or drills taught by coaches to avoid those kind of collisions.”
Markum has since prided herself on finding creative means to express her love of soccer through her knowledge of the World Cup and by playing Rocket League, a video game featuring multiple vehicles or cars scoring goals on a larger-than-life soccer field.
She also has a few words for high school athletes with injuries similar to hers:
“Try to take care of it while you can and maintain the strength. Enjoy your time and make sure to always be cautious when you’re not sure of a move or how to maneuver, but more importantly follow your heart when your in that game.”