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A soccer scholarship that almost wasn't for East Lake's Lauren Dodge

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Wed. February 4, 2015 | Matt Baker | Email

A soccer scholarship that almost wasn't for East Lake's Lauren Dodge

EAST LAKE – When East Lake defender Lauren Dodge felt her left leg give out three years ago next week, she knew it was broken.

She didn’t know how close she came to losing it – or how she’d pick herself up to sign Wednesday to play soccer at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“Soccer is my life,” Dodge said after her signing day ceremony. “It was really scary to know that everything could have ended if they couldn’t fix it.”

The injury happened during a soccer event in Atlanta. She planted her foot and felt her leg rip. The pain was excruciating as they carted her off the field.

After the first hospital realized the swelling in her leg was because of compartment syndrome, doctors sent her to a second hospital for surgery. When Dodge woke up, doctors told her they would have had to amputate her leg if they had been much later.

She spent four months in a wheelchair before learning how to place her ankle and shift her knee so it wouldn’t give out and she could walk again.

“It was just weird, learning how to put all my weight down,” Dodge said.

Soon after she relearned how to walk, she was ready to run. But a return to the soccer field came much later.

“I lost a lot of confidence in myself because I was really scared,” Dodge said. “I didn’t want it to happen again. It took a lot to gain all that back, the mental ability.”

Dodge eventually recovered in time to start her sophomore season in high school. She credited her parents for pushing her and her coaches for yelling at her to keep her going.

She’ll continue her soccer career at FGCU, but she won’t forget the injury that nearly derailed her career.

Dodge plans to study physical therapy in college, so she can help athletes like herself get back on the field.

“I want to help kids,” Dodge said, “and help them with what I went through.”

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