Inside Boston College Walk On Melanie Welch's ACL Recovery


When Melanie Welch steps onto the field lacrosse field, she remembers the roller coaster ride that got her there and the work she put in to make it happen.

Welch, the Boston College senior defender, plays a starting role for an Eagles’ team that sits at No. 4 in the Nike / US Lacrosse Division I Women’s Top 20. She’s had to endure two separate ACL injuries to make it back to the sport after walking on with BC.

She joined host Sheehan Stanwick Burch on Season 1, Ep. 6 of “The Stick Drop” podcast to share her recovery story. You can listen to the full interview on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

In October of 2018, Welch fell awkwardly at practice but didn’t think much of the injury. Coach Acacia Walker Weinstein encouraged her to have trainers take a look at her knee, and the results weren’t what Welch was expecting.

She had torn the ACL in her knee — an injury that kept her out for almost an entire calendar year. While she recovered, she looked to her teammates, more than a handful of whom had been through the same process.

“I would look at Sam [Apuzzo] and Dempsey [Arsenault], who had gone through it, still excelling at the sport and I was like, ‘OK. I can do this. They’ve been through it and are still phenomenal players, so I can do it too if I just work hard,’” Welch said.

Welch returned to the field in November of 2019 after watching from the sidelines for 13 months. She had a better appreciation for the game and a deeper knowledge of the Boston College defense.

However, three months later, just before the start of the 2020 season, Welch tore the ACL in her right knee. She had been through recovery and knew what to expect, but another season lost was a mental challenge.

Just weeks later, the entire college lacrosse season was canceled and Boston College players headed for quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak. As scary as the time was for players, Welch was able to return home and rehab without missing out on the action.

“COVID was almost a blessing in disguise for me at that point because I wasn’t around the sport of lacrosse and no one was really playing lacrosse,” she said. “You’re not watching people doing something you love that you can’t do. We were all in quarantine, so there was nothing you can do but rehab.”

Entering 2021, Welch was simply grateful to be playing lacrosse again. She earned a spot as a starter on the Boston College defensive line and is in line to play meaningful minutes in the NCAA tournament.

What a ride it has been.

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