Sidelined Sinisalo can’t wait to returnAlthough busy being an avid athlete in soccer, basketball, track and competitive dance, perhaps Cloquet’s Grace Sinisalo should have signed up to be a cheerleader as well. Unfortunately for the senior, she has spent much of her high school sports career caretaking a laundry-list of major injuries — and cheering from the sidelines.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Although busy being an avid athlete in soccer, basketball, track and competitive dance, perhaps Cloquet’s Grace Sinisalo should have signed up to be a cheerleader as well.
Unfortunately for the senior, she has spent much of her high school sports career caretaking a laundry-list of major injuries — and cheering from the sidelines.
Sinisalo was on the sidelines Tuesday when the Cloquet-Carlton girls soccer team dowsed Duluth Marshall 6-3 in Cloquet, as the captain midfielder stayed positive and progressed another day closer toward her return to the field.
Sinisalo, 18, has missed all six of the Lumberjacks’ (2-4) games this fall because of an injury, as the 5-foot-4 energizer dislocated and partially tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL) in her left knee during a summer league soccer game at Hibbing.
“I went for the ball,” said Sinisalo, who has played soccer since age 6. “My knee went one way and I went the other.”
“I heard her scream and my heart just dropped,” said senior teammate Maija Doran. “And I just started to pray.”
Serious injuries are common for Sinisalo, who said since eighth grade she’s broken both ankles, fractured her left wrist and torn ligaments in her left hand. At last year’s state soccer tournament, Sinisalo suffered a concussion that removed her from the game, snapping a seemingly first injury-free season.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Sinisalo said Tuesday, who still wears her knee brace and does physical therapy three times a week. “It sucks being on the sidelines watching.”
“I can’t even put myself in her shoes,” added Doran.
Lumberjacks girls soccer coach Dustin Randall said without Sinisalo — a four-year varsity veteran — he’s had to adjust his lineup with several players to ease her absence.
“If she gets back to 100 percent, it’ll be nice to have her back,” he said. “It’s basically impossible to fill her spot.
“She’s been in the program for a long time and does whatever she can to help,” Randall said of Sinisalo, who ran the captain’s practices before the season started even though she couldn’t participate. “This isn’t the first time she’s missed sports for an injury. But she hasn’t missed anything. She’s been positive and is looking forward.”
Sinisalo optimistically said she may see a few shifts today (Thursday, Sept. 12), when the Lumberjacks host Two Harbors.
“I’m hoping to,” Sinisalo said, “but until I get to play again, I guess I’m just trying to be that sideline supporter.”
Just like a cheerleader would.
“We both made the JV back in seventh grade,” Doran added. “Honestly, it’s hard to imagine our team without her.”