Fort Myers athlete works through history of injures to compete

Strength, both physical and mental, are found through many different experiences in our personal lives. For one soccer player, strength came while nursing back to health after dealing with what could have been career-ending injuries.

However, Mallory Hayden, a soccer player in Fort Myers, isn’t letting that become the story line.

“I would consider myself damaged goods,” Hayden said. “Because most colleges, they don’t want people that have had multiple injuries in a row.”

Since Hayden was young, college soccer has always been, not only a dream, but a real possibility.

“It was a no-brainer that, she’s going somewhere to be a student athlete. She had so much talent,” said Danny Fahey, GPS Florida West Club coach.

But before her varsity career at Evangelical Christian could begin, Hayden suffered a torn ACL while playing club soccer. Hayden thought she wouldn’t play competitively again.

“Complete fear that she’s not going to be able to carry on the one thing that she’s taken to, and the one thing that she loves,” said Hayden’s father James Hayden.

Still, Hayden refused to quit, earning her junior year. Yes, she earned it.

“Me and my club coach Danny, we would go and do crossfit every single morning before school at 6 a.m., just to rehab,” Hayden said. “And then I would do multiple trainings in the afternoons.”

Setbacks did continue for Hayden though: During her junior year, Hayden suffered another ligament tear in her ankle, then another ACL tear before her senior year, putting her career in jeopardy once again.

“There was definitely conversations about what she was going to do from there, whether we were going to carry on,” Fahey said.

Hayden’s parents said their daughter found the determination within herself to continue working toward recovery and her goal to play the game she loves.

Hayden was rewarded recently. She signed with Division 2 Lee University, turning down several Division 1 offers while going the process.

Mallory Hayden – Photo by WINK News.

“When they reached out and showed so much interest, their team and the girls, I just felt so welcome by them,” Hayden said.

Hayden admits she thinks about looming injuries, but it does not stop her from working toward progress as an athlete.

Despite her injury history, Hayden is a third-year captain for ECS, and the soccer team is coming off back-to-back state final four trips.

“I have something special,” Hayden said. “And everyone has said that, and I’m not going to let it go to waste because of a little injury.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Andrew Keesee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein