Most athletes dread injuries, for obvious reasons.
Of course, Cashmere midfielder Tianna Helm wishes that she didn’t suffer a serious shoulder injury last fall that eventually required surgery and rehabilitation, but she did.
What Helm did after that, however, really shows what kind of person she is: She turned a negative into a positive, or at the very least found a positive attribute in a negative situation.
“It’s hard for every athlete (to go through something like that),” she said, “but I think it was humbling, something that I actually believe every serious athlete should go through because it forces you to take a step back and realize why you’re playing and to re-focus yourself. It was good for me, but it was difficult every day.
“My goal going into my (rehabilitation) was to come back better than I was before, so I worked at parts of my game that I knew I had weaknesses in. I don’t usually get a chance to zone in on those things, so I did, and I feel great. I don’t even feel like I had an injury.”
Helm originally hurt the joint in a district soccer match against Quincy last fall, then re-aggravated the injury in a basketball game against Connell in December. She had surgery in January and went through a rigorous rehab program for several months.
She showed up to Cashmere’s first fall practice in great shape, though, and hasn’t had any problems with her shoulder so far.
“The first time I went on (the field), I thought I’d be a little hesitant,” she said, “but the first time you hit somebody, all of that (doubt) is gone.”
Helm was named as the Caribou Trail League’s player of the year in 2012 after scoring 20 goals and leading the Bulldogs to their second consecutive appearance in the 1A state tournament semifinals.
She’s off to another great start in 2013, scoring eight goals in the Bulldogs’ (5-0, 3-0 Caribou Trail League) first five games.
“We’ve been asking her to (score more),” said Cashmere coach Dennis Tronson. “She’s good at finding other players for assists if she’s getting double-teamed, but if (opponents) back off her, the goals will come.”
“My weakness is (that I tend) to be a little too unselfish,” Helm said, “so (Tronson) has been pushing me for four years now — ‘You need to be more aggressive.’ I’m trying to bring that, but it’s really not part of my personality to want to take everyone on all the time and not give my teammates a chance to score, because the more girls that are scoring, the harder we are to defend.”
Helm most likely will be playing soccer in soccer next year — Tronson said that the straight-A student has drawn interest from Yale, Gonzaga and the University of San Diego, among other programs.
“I fell in love with (soccer) early,” she said. “It plays to all of my strengths. I don’t have to be an amazing athlete to be a good soccer player, and I’ve known that I’m not an amazing athlete. I have a little bit of speed, but I’m not the fastest girl out there. I may be able to jump, but I can’t jump the highest.
“Soccer plays into being smart and using what I’ve got. Anybody can play soccer, no matter what size you are. It’s who gets after it and puts in the most time, and that’s what I’ve done.”