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Injury sidelines local Irish player

Matt Mooney | Thursday, August 26, 2004

As a South Bend resident, freshman Susan Pinnick didn’t need to travel very far to join the Notre Dame women’s soccer team. But due to a summer accident, the former St. Joseph’s High School standout will not take the field for the Irish this year no matter how close she is.Pinnick will not get the chance to compete this year after a van crash on June 12 left her sidelined for the season.While on a trip to Colorado with her Carmel soccer team, the team’s extended passenger van collided with an SUV as both vehicles attempted to change lanes. The van rolled and, of the 17 other members in the van, Pinnick caught the brunt of the injuries, though she has no recollection of the actual accident.”I remember right before the accident, just as the SUV was about to hit us,” she said, “but that’s the last thing I remember.”The doctors in Colorado found that she had a fractured vertebra in addition to a broken right hand and nerve damage in her left arm. She remained in the hospital for 12 days.”The most important thing [the doctors] told me was that I would make a full recovery … and I took it in stride once I realized it could have been a lot worse,” Pinnick said.However, not everyone knew Pinnick could make such a recovery right away, and for coach Randy Waldrum, the worst part was not knowing the severity of the injury.”When you hear ‘broken neck’, you automatically fear the worst like paralysis or other long term effects,” Waldrum said. “Honestly, I don’t think anyone was even thinking about the season.”The injury will not end Pinnick’s career, but is serious enough to end her season before it even begins. She still wears a soft collar neck brace, but that is an upgrade from the supportive halo she had to use after the accident.Currently, she is in the midst of rehabilitating both her arm and her neck at Memorial Hospital.”I have most of the movement back in my arm so right now they’re working on strengthening it without too much strain on the neck,” Pinnick said. “For the neck, we’re just making sure it’s stable. It’s actually been moving a lot quicker than we thought it would.”The doctors told Pinnick it would take six months to a year to be back at full strength, but that doesn’t fill the void of sitting on the sidelines.Pinnick, a high school Parade All-American, will remain on the team’s roster even though Waldrum will not be able to use her on the field.”She’ll be helping us out on the sidelines and bench with stats and other things,” Waldrum said. “Susan still comes to practice everyday and we want her to still feel like a part of this team even if she’s not playing.”Despite sitting out this fall, both Pinnick and Waldrum are anticipating her return next season.”I really miss being out on the field and getting to play,” Pinnick said. “I know I’ll learn a lot just by watching but it’s just not the same as being out on the field.”Waldrum knows that once she does come back, Pinnick will be an impact player.”She’ll be able to help us because she has a different style than a lot of our other attackers. Her style is more attacking the defense head-on and putting pressure on the opposing defenders rather than with your back to the goal like some of our other forwards. It gives us a different look to show our opponents.”