“Grow from it, learn from it, and come out better.”

“I hit the ground, my cleat got stuck in the mud and my body tried to turn at the same time, and it just completely tore right then and there.”

Arin sits in a red seat at the soccer stadium and stares down at the field.
“Tearing your ACL, when you've never done it before...you think your life's going to be over."

In the midst of Arin Gilliland Wright’s soccer career at the University of Kentucky, she faced every athlete’s worst nightmare. Right at the halftime kickoff against Tennessee, Arin tore her ACL, putting her lifelong dream of playing professional soccer in jeopardy.

Arin jogs on the soccer field during a game.
“I was at this precipice of my career. My U-20 USA team was preparing for World Cup. So for me to tear my ACL in that moment was devastating.”

An ACL tear is a setback for any professional athlete, and full recovery requires an uphill battle. Arin wasn’t about to let that stop her. After her injury, Arin went to see Dr. Darren Johnson, a nationally-recognized knee expert at UK HealthCare’s Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine program. Arin’s surgery was successful, and she began the next step to getting back on the field: six to nine months of intensive physical therapy.

Arin looks across the field during a game with a full stadium. The back of her jersey is visible and her number is 3.
“When you suddenly go through an injury like that, you’ve got to learn to be able to lean on other people.”

Arin bonded with her physical therapist, John Jurjans, from day one. “He was the best physical therapist that they could have ever possibly put me with. He was so patient and so understanding and I was a whirlwind of terror. The first few sessions were so terrible for me, but he’s the reason that I got through it. He was patient with me.”

Arin runs after an opponent with the ball during a soccer game.
“It feels stronger than it did before. It feels almost like a new leg, a bionic leg. Like nothing could happen to it.”

Getting back onto the field is tough, but getting back to the player you once were is tougher. However, Arin was determined to get her career back on track and live up to her childhood nicknamethe “Energizer Bunny”once again.

Arin Wright balances a soccer ball on one foot while standing in the goal net. She is visibly pregnant and happy.
Today, Arin is temporarily out of the game again, but for a good reason: she’s expecting her first child.

Arin made that comeback happen, returning to the field in fighting shape. Her career skyrocketed soon after. She was the first person to be drafted from the University of Kentucky to play for the National Women’s Soccer Leaguethe eighth overall pick in the 2015 NWSL College Draft to the Chicago Red Stars. She later joined the Newcastle Jets on loan to play internationally.

Arin holds a soccer ball next to her baby bump while leaning in the hallway that leads to the soccer field she plays at.
“I wouldn't have my life that I have now and I wouldn't have my career that I have now if it wasn't for Dr. Johnson.”

“I wanted to call myself a professional athlete. I wanted day in, day out, for my job to be going to soccer practice and playing in this league. And now that’s what I do for a living and it’s every little soccer girl’s dream. I’m living that, and that’s because of Dr. Johnson and UK HealthCare, and I am beyond thankful.”

Arin looks through the goal netting while holding onto it.
“This is just a hump that you're getting over to continue on the path that's going to make you better along the way.”

See how we care for patients like Arin

at UK HealthCare Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine

Donna Martin wears her PLD cheer sweatshirt and smiles in a busy gymnasium.A formal portrait of Coach Mitchell in a blue suit.