Most 5-year-old girls dream of owning a pony, twirling in tutus and obsessing over the color pink. Instead, grass stains, sweaty jerseys and muddied soccer cleats was what one young girl dreamed about.
Stacy Bartholomew, a senior from Orem studying exercise science, had soccer on her mind from a young age. Growing up, Bartholomew watched her older brothers play soccer and her obsession with the sport grew from there. She constantly begged her mom to sign her up and when she turned 5, her wish was granted.
“She loved soccer games, soccer practice, watching soccer from the time she was very little,” Holly Bartholomew, her mother, said in an email. “At first I think she enjoyed swinging on the goal posts most of all.”
Her obsession for soccer quickly became her passion and her natural talent for the sport didn’t go unnoticed either. Bartholomew had always wanted to play for BYU, and after years of hard work and endless hours of practicing, she was offered a scholarship and spot on the women’s team her freshman year.
When it seemed as though Bartholomew finally achieved her life-long goal of playing soccer at BYU, tragedy struck. In her first exhibition game, she was subbed in and tore her ACL within 30 seconds of play.
“I didn’t really know what an ACL tear was,” Bartholomew said. “Teammates had done it and said you hear a pop. And I heard a pop.”
After working all fall and winter recovering from her tear, tragedy struck again when she tore her ACL the following spring. With another tear and recovery under her belt, she was stronger and ready to play again, when she tore her ACL for the third time.
For her first two injuries, Bartholomew focused her rehab on taking it one day at a time, but during her third rehab stint, she approached the situation differently. Bartholomew turned to the gospel to help her through her trials. She attended the temple multiple times a week to do confirmations and bring her closer to the Lord.
“I feel like Heavenly Father couldn’t really help me if I wasn’t doing everything I could to receive that help,” Bartholomew said. “I was trying to be the best I could. For being hurt, I had the best situation.”
Bartholomew’s mom said watching her daughter go through multiple injuries took a toll on her as a parent. No parent wants to see their child hurt and see them having to put their dreams on hold. Although the recovery process was long and hard, Holly Bartholomew said she saw how her daughter has grown from the experience.
“She learned more compassion for others and their trials,” she said. “She has learned patience. She has learned whether sitting the bench or playing a few minutes she needs to support the team as best she can.”
Director of Sports Medicine Caroline Billings, who worked closely and became good friends with Stacy Bartholomew during all three of her recoveries, said no matter her situation, Bartholomew never gave up. She said even when she was having a hard day with rehab, she always had a good attitude and a long-term eternal perspective in mind. Billings said through her injuries, she always supported her teammates and could cheer up any member of the team.
“I encouraged Stacy to make the most of everyday,” Billings said. “Don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow, just play hard today.”
Three years and three ACL tears later, Bartholomew is healthy, stronger than ever and ready to play her final season at BYU this fall. With the support of her teammates, coaches and family, Bartholomew is ready to tackle what lies ahead, whatever that may be.
“Her commitment to her rehab and getting back to be a better and stronger player than she was before is a true testament of Stacy’s character,” said Merc Koning, a teammate and senior from Layton studying exercise science. “She’s an inspiration to all the girls on the team.”