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After ACL Surgery, These Young Female Athletes Return to Action


Some say it's a man's world, but when it comes to athletics, women are stealing the spotlight. Thanks to famous players such as soccer star Mia Hamm, volleyball player Misty May-Treanor and basketball's Lisa Leslie, young female athletes have role models who help them shoot for the stars. But, along the way, there can be bumps in the road, such as an injury that requires surgery.

These five, teenage female athletes were playing competitive sports or participating in a sports clinic when they ruptured their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament):

  • Rachel Adams – Volleyball
  • Trevion Beverly – Basketball
  • Sydney Fitzcharles – Volleyball
  • Abigail Olshavsky – Cheerleading
  • Elizabeth Patterson – Lacrosse

“The ACL is a ligament found in the knee that controls its stability and motion,” said James Voos, MD, Division Chief of Sports Medicine, the Jack and Mary Herrick Endowed Director of University Hospitals Sports Medicine Institute and Head Team Physician for the Cleveland Browns. “When torn, the ACL causes the knee to become unstable, requiring surgical reconstruction.” Dr. Voos continued, “ACL tears are quite common among athletes, and each of these young women were participating in a demanding activity when their injuries occurred.”

Rachel’s Story

Rachel Adams was preparing for her first Twinsburg High School volleyball game of the season in August 2014 when during a warm-up she jumped and landed awkwardly. Her knee caved in and she heard a loud “pop” followed by excruciating pain. Her parents called UH Sports Medicine and were told that Rachel could be seen by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the knee, Dr. Voos.

According to Rachel’s mother Julie, “I didn’t know at the time that we were seeing the head team physician of the Cleveland Browns, but I’m sure glad it turned out to be him.”

Rachel underwent surgery at the UH Lyndhurst Surgery Center in September 2014. After several months of physical therapy, she was cleared to return to volleyball, and has now added softball to her resume.

Trevion’s Story

Trevion Beverly was in 11th grade at Cleveland Central Catholic School in February 2015 when as a member of the girls’ varsity basketball team, she ruptured her ACL.

“I was dribbling and came to a complete stop,” said Trevion. “My knee popped and I felt something tear.”

Initially, trainers thought she had hyperextended her knee, but when there was significant swelling, it became clear that the injury was severe. Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, was able to drain the fluid that had accumulated in Trevion’s knee, but surgery was required.

Dr. Kelly referred her to Dr. Voos, and the surgery took place at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in March 2015. Now a senior, Trevion, who plays power forward, is back and better than ever. In fact, she has committed to Walsh University to play not only basketball, but track as well.

Sydney’s Story

Sydney Fitzcharles has been playing volleyball since third grade. In October 2014 she was in eighth grade, playing Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) volleyball for St. Rita in Solon when she backed up to set the ball. She jumped, and upon landing, her right leg stayed planted while the rest of her body projected forward. Her knee gave inward, and her ACL tore. At the emergency department of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, the physicians recommended that Sydney see pediatric sports specialist Dr. Weiss Kelly. As was the case with Trevion, Sydney also needed surgery, and was referred to Dr. Voos.

“He is very charismatic and approachable,” said Sydney. “Not only did he take the time to answer all of my questions, he was also very motivating and positive about my ability to recover.”

Now in ninth grade at Beaumont School, Sydney is back to playing volleyball.

Abigail’s Story

Abigail Olshavsky was a senior at Brunswick High School in December 2014 when she was given the opportunity to participate in a college-level cheerleading clinic. While practicing a jump, she landed awkwardly and heard a snapping sound. She left the mat and rested on the sideline, then returned to the practice. After hearing the snapping sound a second time, she knew she had injured her knee. That night, her family took her to the UH Urgent Care in Strongsville and upon receiving a recommendation from a neighbor who works at UH, Abigail’s parents took her to see Dr. Voos.

“He was really nice, and he explained everything to me,” said Abigail. “I felt comfortable with him.”

The surgery took place in January 2015. After several months of physical therapy along with her own workouts at a gym, Abigail has completely recovered. She is currently a freshman at The Ohio State University, studying marketing.

Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth Patterson, a member of Great Lakes Lacrosse, a travel team, was playing her final game of the season in July 2014 when she tore her ACL. She normally plays center, but was playing defense that day. She sprinted to block a shot and heard a loud pop in her right knee. She immediately fell over and was not able to stand up again. Trainers were concerned about her knee, and the injury made it impossible for her to work the following day. That’s when she saw Dr. Kelly in Solon. Two days before she was scheduled to try out for her school’s varsity field hockey team, an MRI showed that she had torn her ACL and would need surgery. Dr. Kelly referred Elizabeth to Dr. Voos.

“She told me that he was the surgeon for the Cleveland Browns, and I immediately felt comfortable.” She continued, “When I met him, he was very genuine. I could tell he cared about me and my recovery. I wasn’t just another leg to him.”

Today, Elizabeth is back on the lacrosse field and feels better than ever.

Learn More About UH Sports Medicine

When an injury forces you to the sidelines, let UH help you get back into the game. UH Sports Medicine provides personalized care and advanced treatment protocols for athletes of all ages. For an appointment with Dr. Voos or any of the expert surgeons in the UH Division of Sports Medicine, call 216-983-PLAY (7529) or visit UHSports.org.