Girls soccer

Injuries don't slow down Valparaiso senior midfielder Pulllins

2012-09-09T17:00:00Z 2012-09-09T19:56:12Z Injuries don't slow down Valparaiso senior midfielder PulllinsJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
September 09, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

Concussions, stress fractures and sprained ankles have a been a part of the prep soccer career for Valparaiso senior midfielder Kaylee Pullins.

Goals and assists have also been part of the resume during a four-year varsity stint, as Pullins always seems to find her way back to the pitch.

"She's a strong-willed person," Valparaiso coach Robert Cespedes said. "Players can go two ways (after injuries): play timidly or work through it. ... She pops up, deals with it, overcomes it and moves forward."

Pullins had 15 goals and six assists on last year's Class 2A regional finalist team. She already has 11 goals and eight assists in just six games this season.

"I absolutely don't want to get hurt," Pullins said. "It happens. I have a high pain tolerance and just tend to play through the pain."

That just always hasn't been the case.

She suffered a few concussions as a freshman, and now she dons protective headgear as a preventative measure.

As a junior, she dealt with what was muscle pain — and found out at the end of the season that she had a pair of stress fractures in her back — Lumbar 4 and 5.

'I would've been more concerned if I knew what was wrong," Pullins said. "I'm glad I that I didn't exactly know."

This season, Pullins noticed when her cleat got stuck in the ground during the Hobart scrimmage and she sprained her right ankle. After a four-game injury hiatus, Pullins also grimaced when she rolled her left ankle against Chesterton — in her first game back from the previous injury.

"I felt I was back when I stepped on the field for that game," said Pullins, who had a goal and assist in the win. "I couldn't miss it.

"When I walked off the field, I told the trainer to tape me up, and I went back out there."

She's remained out there, putting up five goals and four assists in a win against Michigan City. She also had a hat trick and assist in a win against South Bend Adams.

"She's got very good ball skills, but she also has the natural talent of speed and endurance — it's a great combination," Cespedes said. "Her shot is deadly from outside midfield. If she doesn't have the angle, she can switch it and pop it right there in the center for one of her teammates to finish."

Pullins, who plans on playing at Butler next fall, just wants to keep playing the game she loves.

"I wouldn't be playing this for over 10 years if I didn't like it," Pullins said. "When I take a break for three months, I'm like, 'Can I have soccer back? Can I get a ball on my foot?' It's important for me to play."

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