Down, But Not Out of The Game

Demi Maris, a Class of 2021 member of the ODU Women's Soccer team, enjoys a moment on the sideline of a soccer field in Antwerp, Belgium after having reconstructive surgery to her meniscus located in her right knee.

Photo Courtesy of Demi Maris

By Justin K. Thomas

August 6, 2017

Before attending Old Dominion University and becoming a member of the Women’s Soccer team, Demi Maris of Antwerp, Belgium, was a rising star on her country’s national football team. But while playing, she seriously injured her knee—first by damaging the meniscus and subsequently the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—that precluded her from playing the sport she loves.

“I was devastated,” Maris said. “I had worked very hard to get to that level of competition. And like that, during one of my first games, I tore my meniscus.”

After taking time off to heal, the chemistry major worked her way back to playing soccer by participating in physical rehabilitation, exercising and maintaining her diet. But then, Maris experienced another setback.

“About six months following the first injury I started practicing again,” she said. “I was preparing with my uncle, and that went really well. So, from there I began playing with the national team again. But, during my first game back, I reinjured myself. I had torn my ACL.”

Demi Maris, a member of the ODU Women's Soccer team passes a soccer ball to a teammate. Currently, Maris has been mentally and physically preparing for regular-season play which will begin on August 11, versus Longwood University.

Photo courtesy of Demi Maris

Although she felt even more frustrated with herself due to the second injury, the 5-foot freshman midfielder was unwavering in not to letting her predicament keep her from supporting others.

“Yes, it’s been a little difficult to watch my friends play while I’m recovering,” she said. “But I'm determined to encourage my teammates by going to every game and doing whatever I can to help the team out.”

Deirdre Bradley, captain of the Women’s Soccer team and a sports management major agrees with Maris’ sentiments of being a team-player and focus although she cannot physically play.

“Demi is probably one of the most focused players we have on our team,” Bradley said. “Anyone can allow an injury let alone two, to distract them achieving a goal. However, she has not allowed that to happen, and that's quite amazing.”

Bradley also noted that once the regular season begins, Maris will have a positive impression on the women’s soccer team which will start with an exhibition match versus Longwood University on August 11 at the ODU Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.

“I definitely think Demi is ready to play now,” she said. “She's been exercising and putting in the extra work needed to have a spot on the team and everyone has noticed that drive. My hope is that she will one day work her way up to a starting position that will maximize our team’s effectiveness. We still have a few weeks left in the preseason, and she can only improve from here.”

Maris said that the most important aspect she’s learned from her injuries isn’t necessarily about the pain or failing, but whether she will get back up and push through the difficult times ahead.

“It is hard to see everyone playing because I love the game so much,” she said. “However, if you fall seven times you must get up eight times, and that’s how I live my life.”