It was a college career that almost didn’t happen. In the first game of her junior season at Franklin, Megan Adams, who had helped the Panthers reach back-to-back South finals the previous two years, suffered a concussion. As many other high school athletes would, she tried to play through it, unaware of the severity of the injury.
Adams would feel the effects of the concussion for the next three years, not only in keeping her off the pitch, missing the final two years of her high school career and her freshman season at Northeastern, but also in her everyday life at home and in the classroom.
Not many athletes would make it through that challenge, but there she was in August of her sophomore season putting on the goalie shirt for her first collegiate appearance, recording a save against Long Beach State. Two days later, she made three saves in her first start at Loyola Marymount.
Looking back as a fifth-year senior, with only a couple games left in her final season with the Huskies, Adams, who says she has no lasting symptoms from the concussion, was able to reflect on all that she managed to overcome.
“It was definitely a long, growing experience and I finally came out the other side finally against what it seemed were all odds,” she explained, praising the sports medicine staff at Northeastern for the work they did with her as a freshman and sophomore to make sure that she was fully recovered and ready to play. “It was a really difficult thing to come back from,” she continued. “I think that was a huge help to have that strong support system.”
Adams added, “The biggest thing I can say is how grateful I am because there would definitely have been some programs who wouldn’t want to stick by me and honor their commitments and scholarships.” She praised Northeastern coach Ashley Phillips for being there through it all. “Coming in as an athlete and not being able to actually play, it can be even more challenging mentally,” Adams said. “Her being so supportive of me as a player and a person, getting me the help I needed making that transition.”
Breaking onto the high school scene as a speedy winger, Adams made her mark with a late winner against Bishop Feehan in the South final. It was her fourth goal of the playoffs. Injuries hampered her sophomore year, but the Panthers made it back to the sectional title game only to lose to Whitman-Hanson. The following fall, expectations were sky high for Adams and Franklin, but, just one game in, Adams went down with the concussion that would sideline her for the next three years.
“Junior year was probably the most frustrating year for me because the injury was still fresh so it was kind of like adapting to it and recognizing the situation,” Adams said. “Honestly, by senior year I was almost to the point of so frustrated not only not being able to play soccer but literally not feeling well all the time, with headaches, dizziness, all the concussion symptoms, that I almost at times didn’t want anything to do with soccer.”
Through it all, Northeastern stuck with their scholarship offer to Adams, who had been a standout goalkeeper with the Bolts. Despite not playing soccer for two years, Adams was a member of Northeastern’s team as a freshman in college, although at times it was tough to feel like part of the team.
“Just not being able to perform, you kind of feel to a small degree like I don’t belong here, why am I even here if I can’t play?” Adams remarked. “Looking back now, at 23, I’m like obviously I belonged there. At that moment, when you’re 18 and away from home for the first time and everything is new, everything is changing, it kind of shakes you.”
She kept working through it all and, gradually, felt the reins loosen from the Northeastern training staff. “I was so excited to be back out there and showed up to practice with an adrenaline rush every day,” Adams said with a laugh. “Even though I was no contact, I just wanted to run someone over.”
Finally, the long wait to get back on the field was over, as Adams entered the game at Long Beach State in the 77th minute. Although Northeastern lost those two games in California, Adams remembers the experience far more than the results.
“In the moment, my first game back, all I was thinking was don’t let the ball in the net but once the game ended and everything calmed down, adrenaline kind of came back down, you’re like, that happened, I’m back,” she explained.
“It felt like any time that I was able to play that it was bonus time. It almost felt like I wasn’t supposed to be back there and somehow I was able to get healthy enough to be able to play and feel good.”
Each appearance was more comfortable than the last and Adams closed out her third year at Northeastern with three straight clean sheets. In the conference tournament, the Huskies were knocked out in the quarterfinals by Elon.
Adams said, “Being out for three years, it’s hard to come back and believe you’re still athletic, so the more I play, the more I can believe in myself and think I really am good at this, there’s a reason someone gave me a scholarship to play this sport and it just builds and builds and builds.”
Last year, the pandemic moved the season to the spring and Northeastern had a series of injuries, so Adams got to relive some of her high school days, showing off her speed to her college teammates by starting four games at outside back and recording her first point with an assist against Drexel. She moved back into goal at the start of this season, although junior keeper Angeline Friel took over down the stretch as Northeastern reached the CAA Tournament’s championship game.
Even as she moved into a backup role, Adams was making sure to enjoy her final weeks with the Huskies, savoring this last chance to be part of a college soccer program.
“We’re supportive of each other and, whoever is getting the ball that day, I’m still enjoying the experience and having fun,” she said. “Knowing that it’s going to be my last year playing competitive soccer, I’ve had this mentality that I’m going to enjoy every aspect of it that I can.”
As she reflected on her experience at Northeastern, it wasn’t the games, the saves, the wins and losses that Adams mentioned, it was her teammates, coaches, and the staff at Northeastern.
“It’s just great to have people who support you and believe in you,” she said. “The reality is that the wins and losses are great, playing soccer is great, but the biggest takeaway is the relationships I’ve built with people.
“Purposely I’m trying hard not to reflect because the reality is it’s an emotional thing and you want to still be able to live in the moment for these last few weeks. Things beyond soccer that we’ve battled and supported each other through, that’s really the difference maker. You’re learning about life through sport.”
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