Lees overcomes setback

Jeff Raasch

Imagine the anticipation building up before the first big match of the year. The level of excitement is at an all-time high. After a long, hard preseason, it’s time for the big show.

Now, imagine that it’s all gone in an instant.

That’s exactly what happened to Cyclone soccer player Lindsey Lees. She went down just two minutes into the very first match last season. The trainers rushed out to her, and Lees told them she didn’t want to be carried off. That’s when she learned the news.

The redshirt sophomore broke her right fibula, and would be out for the season.

What followed was a long year of rehabilitation. Her two best friends were now the bike and the swim-ex, a rehabilitation exercise in which the athlete runs through water. She was told to do as much as she could possibly do.

“It’s an amazing amount of work,” Lees said. “Rehab was every day, sometimes twice a day. It was hard . it was very hard.”

During practices, Lees couldn’t just sit there, so she was constantly in the weight room, getting stronger for this season and making her way to a full recovery. She was forced to watch her teammates struggle to a 7-10-2 season from the sidelines.

The pain wasn’t just from her leg . it was from her heart too.

Lindsey is not the only member of the Lees family to suffer a major injury. Her father Alan qualified for the Olympics in the long jump, but he tore his anterior crucial ligament shortly after and was forced to withdraw from competition.

When you ask this left back what she likes about her position, she replies, “I like to tackle,” with a smile. The aggressiveness she brings to the team is a key ingredient to their success, and was missed last season.

Her aggressive style originated in Aurora, Colorado where Lees got involved in soccer when she was eight years old because her best friend played. Lees was part of the under-18 Colorado Rush Nike club.

“[Soccer] was always really big in Colorado,” she said. “I was very fortunate to be on some lucky teams.”

Lucky might not be the right word.

She led her team to two national championships (1998, 1999) and five Colorado State Cup titles. As a senior at Smokey Hill High School, Lees earned honorable mention all-state honors.

Coming to Iowa State in 1999, Lees expected more success and found it. As a freshman, she played in 19 matches and started eight. She was a key freshman and was named game defensive most valuable player for her efforts against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Lees had even higher hopes for the 2000 season, but then came the injury.

Of course, injuries are nothing new to Lees. During her soccer career she has had teeth knocked out twice, which led to five root canals. She also sustained a few concussions and broken some ribs. She’s tough, but none of her past injuries could prepare her for a season-ending setback.

Now she’s back, along with the rest of the Cyclones, and ready to make up for lost time. There are big expectations this year, including a possible Big 12 tournament berth.

“Our team is definitely a lot stronger than last year,” Lees said. “The attitude on this team is awesome, it’s amazing.”

The team will kickoff the 2001 season on Aug. 31 when they host to Illinois.