For love of the game
For as long as she can remember, soccer has been part of Katie Dolphin's life. It started as an infant when she would watch her father, Bob, play in leagues in her native New York state. It is why her parents lied about her age to get Katie into her first competitive league - at age four.
It is why she is not going to let a severe knee injury get in the way of ending her Pacific soccer career on a positive note. Not this knee injury, or the one before, or the one before that.
'I can't give it up,' the Barlow High School graduate said. 'I was introduced to soccer when I was two weeks old and I've been kicking it ever since. It's the only sport I have ever really played. It's everything to me.'
That's why it pains Dolphin to be sitting on the sidelines for the second season in four years, watching her Boxer teammates play instead of being in the mix herself, making a difference at the offensive end.
Charged up and ready to return to the field after a once-in-a-lifetime trip to watch the World Cup in Germany, Dolphin jumped at the opportunity to play as a fill in player on her father's co-ed adult league team in Gresham. She went up for a header, landed wrong and promptly dislocated her knee, ending her season before it began.
It was not the first such injury for the senior forward in a Pacific career that has had more bad luck than an Oklahoma football fan at Autzen Stadium. Two years ago, Dolphin suffered a season-ending foot injury during a preseason road run simply by stepping off a curb wrong.
During the first spring practice leading up to the 2005 season, Dolphin planted her foot into a hole on Pacific's Tom Reynolds Field, blowing her MCL and breaking her right femur. She recovered in time for the fall season, but never had the time to fully complete her rehab. She walked, ran and played with a trademark 'Dolphin Limp' all year.
Then lighting struck in the same place for a third time - on the same knee.
'They got me into a car and I had a five minute meltdown thinking about how this was supposed to be my senior year,' Dolphin said. 'I had been playing with (Pacific forward) Laura Hill since I was 12. I didn't get to play with her my sophomore year and I didn't get to play with her our junior year because she was injured.
'It went through my mind that I let myself down and I let my team down.'
But like the two times before, Dolphin is not going to let her body stand in the way of finishing out her collegiate soccer experience. She goes under the knife Thursday at Meridian Park Hospital with the hopes that her orthopedist can put her knee back together and get rid of the Dolphin Limp for good.
While she is on track to graduate in May, Dolphin plans to return for the fall 2007 season. It is worth the extra $12,000, she says, to have one more shot at leaving it all on the field.
When she leaves the hospital, there will be no pick up games, no fill-in appearances on her dad's club, no road runs to blow the investment. Dolphin will definitely be taking it easy. She loves the game too much to screw it up again.
'The plan is to run the straightaways on the track,' Dolphin laughs. 'No uneven ground, no curves, nothing. Just straight back and forth.'