Edwards’ Wallace overcomes adversity on the pitch
Vail, CO Colorado
ELON, North Carolina ” The fact that Morgan Wallace was selected as a captain for the Division I soccer team at Elon (N.C.) University sets her apart from the vast majority of college athletes from the Vail Valley.
She joins J.P. Testwuide (Denver University, hockey) as an athlete who has captained a Division I sports team. It is not the simple fact that Wallace became a captain at Elon. She’s known on local soccer pitches as a leader back to her days at Battle Mountain from 2003-06, when she was a captain her senior year.
What is amazing is that she overcame a potentially career-ending injury to lead her team.
At the end of Wallace’s freshman soccer season, she was diagnosed with compartment syndrome in both of her calves. This condition develops when increased pressure within a confined space that is heavily used is impaired from natural blood supply, and can result in nerve damage and muscle death.
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In Wallace’s case, she essentially ran out of room for blood to circulate naturally because of the massive amount of muscle in her calves. To alleviate pressure surgery is needed to create space in the calves. Wallace underwent surgery and started rehabilitation on both legs the same year.
After starting her entire high school career and her freshman year, Wallace was a bit out of her element when she was forced to contribute from off the bench.
“Everyone has a role on the team; you just have to find it.” Wallace said. “I found my role as the verbal leader from the sideline. If you are not on the field playing, you need to find a way to contribute positively.”
Most players would find it hard to rebound from such a devastating injury but Wallace persevered throughout the offseason her freshman year so that she could continue her passion.
“Personally I am very goal-oriented.” Wallace said. “I sat down and wrote down my goals and my goal was to go into preseason as fit as possible and to contribute on the field. You don’t want to be the one bringing down the team when you know you have a ton of talent.”
Wallace returned her sophomore year to limited action off the bench as she was not 100 percent game-ready. The midfielder ” yes, after four years as a fullback with the Huskies- ” said that her team supported her in her comeback and that she was motivated by her surgeon’s prediction.
“The doctor told me I would never be 100 percent again, but I wanted soccer to be apart of my life, even if it meant surgery.”
Her hard work along with her outstanding leadership skills were some of the qualities that Elon head coach Chris Neal looked for in his four captains.
“She has natural leadership qualities,” the coach said. “Her teammates really flock and are drawn to her. She is outgoing and not scared to say what she sees. During the game, when she is on the field or on the bench, if there is something wrong, she is already talking to the team before I can get the words out of my mouth.”
Wallace has two younger brothers, Conor and Lars, and has been thrown into a leading position her entire life. When asked if she consciously leads or if it just comes naturally she said it has become conscious at a college level where as it was natural in high school.
“I think when you get to the college level it is conscious leading. I was still a verbal leader when not a captain but having the title there is a conscious level. Your teammates and coaches look for that.”
A double major in corporate communication and accounting, Wallace, after a reduced playing role her junior year, is hoping for her best season yet.
“My coach always says that we got better today but we need to get better. I need to come in as fit as ever both on and off the field. I would really like to have a strong winning record to show that we have contributed to something great.”
As for post-college plans Wallace hopes to run a small public relations firm one day. She would also enjoy staying involved in soccer perhaps through a coaching role. Her college coach could also see her coaching one day.
“If she wants she will be a great coach. I don’t know if that is what she wants, but she could be an amazing coach” Neal said. “She sees the game very well.”
“I want to be a coach, not in college, but maybe at high school” Wallace said.