By Tori Wittenbrock
DE PERE— After an impressive season with the De Pere girls soccer team, eighteen-year-old Allison Wettstein has recently been named Defensive Player of the Year for the Fox River Classic Conference, in addition to earning First Team All Conference.
The Redbirds had an impressive season, only allowing two goals throughout all of conference play. They finished first in the FRCC with a record of 8-0-1 with a total of 34 goals scored on the season. Their season ended with a disappointing 4-5 loss to Bay Port in their WIAA Sectional game on Thursday, June 8.
Wettstein has become one of the many young athletes in the Green Bay area who has had to overcome not only the physical struggles that accompany an injury, but also the mental challenges that often plague those who have suffered a setback in their sport.
After years of hard work and dedication to her soccer career, Wettstein was recently injured with a torn ACL in her knee, in one of the last games of her high school career.
However, Wettstein’s performance all season speaks to her innate talent and work ethic, and her post-injury outlook is a testament to the strength of her character.
“I tore completely tore my ACL, completely tore my meniscus, and fractured my femur in my second to last conference game this season. With surgery and nine months of recovery coming up in my future, my goal is to always stay committed to the process. I already know a little bit of what the process is going to look like since my sophomore year I tore my other ACL and meniscus, but staying mentally and physically strong is going to lead me to a successful recovery,” said Wettstein.
A major injury such as this can often be extremely detrimental to not only a young athlete’s physical well-being, but can pose many mental challenges as well.
“Having torn my ACL toward the end of my senior soccer season, I am not playing soccer in college my freshman year. However, I have not yet decided if I want to play once I recover from my injury,” she said
After a slight derailment of her plans, Wettstein said she is still looking forward to what the future holds for her, knowing her life is not defined by her athletic performance.
However, Wettstein also acknowledged that her strength of character would not have come without the stability of her family’s support system.
“My parents have always been my biggest supporters. From traveling out of state for a game to watching my games in the pouring rain, they have always been there for me. My dad gives me advice on how to improve and my mom makes sure I’m prepared for game days, so between what they do for me, I am always ready to go.”
Wettstein said she also has her parent’s to thank for her start in soccer, and for always supporting her athletic decisions.
“I started playing soccer at five years old because my parents told me I could either play soccer or softball and I chose soccer,” she recalled.
Although soccer is now Wettstein’s primary sport, her athletic career is well-rounded.
“I have played basketball since 2nd grade and played all four years of high school,” said Wettstein.
Aside from her partents, Wettstein’s coach, Andy Steger, is also a big supporter.
“Alli was the dynamic force behind our defense this year. Where most teams play with four defenders, we played with three because Alli could cover that much ground,” said Steger.
“She is a very bright player who is an incredible athlete. Our team had only given up two conference goals and seven overall goals while Alli was on in our defensive line.”
There are not many athletes better suited than Wettstein to speak about the dedication it takes to balance the responsibilities of being a student-athlete.
“Being a big time commitment, I’ve had to miss out on many events for soccer. For instance, I was at a tournament in Kansas during my 8th grade promotion. Additionally, my junior year I had a club game the day of De Pere’s first homecoming, and this year I had a high school game the day of my senior prom. With club soccer, I traveled a lot and had late practices which caused me to miss out on a lot of time with my friends and family during summer,” she said.
“Balancing my academics and athletics can get challenging at times. It definitely takes some time management skills to do well in both. I have had a handful of late nights, especially around finals week, where I have lots of studying and homework to do after I get home from my training.”
In addition to her academic schedule, Wettstein said that her athletic schedule can be grueling at times as well.
“During soccer season I dedicate around 25 hours a week to soccer. Between practices, games, film, walk throughs, weight lifting, the hours add up quickly,” said Wettstein.
However, her training is not exclusive to the soccer season. Her work extends far into the off season as well.
“When I am in season, I definitely try to make it a point to get more sleep than when I am out of season. I also eat a lot more pickles and smoothie bowls during the season because it’s an essential part of my pregame routine. Ever since tearing my first ACL, weight training has been important to me so I do training in and out of season as well. When it is not high school soccer season, I am playing a combination of high school basketball, AAU basketball and club soccer, so I am always staying active in the off season,” she explained.
In order to take some of her mind off of the stress of school and sports, Wettstein said that she has a variety of ways that she likes to spend her free time.
Life outside of sports
“Outside of school and sports, I like to spend a lot of my time with my family and friends. Together we like to get ice cream, have a fire, go swimming or just hang out. My family and I also like to travel whenever we can,” Wettstein said.
In recognition of the importance of her life outside of sports, Wettstein said that she is anxiously anticipating her future in college and her career.
“I am majoring in biology on a pre-physician assistant track to become an orthopedic physician assistant.”
Wettstein said that her most recent injury has been a bit of a setback, and is one of the most difficult obstacles she has had to work through in her athletic career.
“The biggest challenge I faced playing soccer was tearing both of my ACLs. It was especially hard this year being my last season of high school soccer since I know I could’ve helped my team in the playoffs.”
However, this is not the first time Wettstein has had to deal with a major injury. Unfortunately, she has some experience with what it takes to overcome this type of injury.
“During my sophomore year, my recovery from ACL reconstruction had its ups and downs. There were some days I lacked motivation and confidence in myself, but I knew I had to push through all of the negative emotions and just focus on the big picture which for me was returning to soccer as strong as I could be. Trusting in myself and having mental and physical strength are what help me make sure I am performing at my best,” said Wettstein.
Yet, Wettstein said she is thankful for everything soccer has taught her, and she will continue to cherish every moment, good and bad that she has experienced while on the field.
“One of the most valuable things soccer has taught me is to always stay strong. Even though something may seem hard at the moment, if you just keep pushing through you’ll come out not just a better player but a better person as well,” Wettstein added.