Michaela Rich Comes Back Strong After Season-long Injury
“I wanted to make this season all about bringing him glory,” Michaela Rich said after coming back from a season-ending injury.
The fifth-year attacker for the Liberty Lady Flames lacrosse team was ultimately sidelined for her entire fourth year due to a recurring hamstring injury, which was first aggravated her sophomore year.
“My athletic trainer, Joey Lyons, was concerned there were more issues, so we then began trying different treatments, seeing doctors, getting x-rays, MRIs,” Rich said detailing the process of diagnosis. “It was really discouraging because I was in pain, but there weren’t many answers to why this kept happening.”
Rich recalls a conversation she had at her first day of physical therapy. She learned that her pelvis had been shifted and locked.
“This was causing my hamstring to do so much more work than it needed to… (The doctor) then realized my glute muscle was so weak, since it had not been working for a long time,” Rich said.
So, Rich finally got her answer, but not the one she was hoping for. For this injury, there was no immediate fix.
Her senior year would be physically challenging, nursing her injury, but Rich also revealed it was tough mentally. She was putting in so much work to get better, yet could not return for her senior season.
However, Rich has come a long way since her injury, and an even longer way since she first picked up a stick in second grade.
“I had rotated between almost every sport when I was younger, and my older sister introduced me to lacrosse when she started playing in high school,” Rich said.
When she got to be her older sister’s age, her performance began to stand out. The one year Rich spent at Urbana High School, she earned Frederick News Post Second Team as a freshman.
“When I received my first award at Urbana, it gave me a lot of confidence,” Rich said. “When you get encouragement from your parents or friends, you sometimes feel like they just give you positive feedback because they want to be encouraging. But to get an award that significant showed me that I had a lot of talent, especially at a young age.”
Rich transferred high schools in her sophomore year because the county she lived in was growing in population. They needed to build another high school and the boundary lines changed, forcing her to go to Linganore High School.
It did not matter where Rich played, she continued to improve and receive praise, gaining Frederick News Post First Team honors.
Following a strong high school campaign, she was recruited primarily through her year-round club team, Frederick Stars Lacrosse, to play at Liberty.
“I started playing with (Fredrick Stars Lacrosse) in about third grade. There wasn’t a team for my age, so I played with girls who were about two years older than me,” Rich said.
Playing against girls older than her so early in her career proved to pay off as she was ultimately recruited by Liberty as high school sophomore. Rich said she ultimately picked Liberty because she wanted to be a part of a program that honored God in everything they did.
Rich made an immediate impact as a freshman for the Lady Flames lacrosse team, starting 15 out of 18 contests and playing in all but one game that season. She ended the season fourth in goals and fifth in points.
“I knew if I kept putting in the work, I would be helping my team,” Rich said.
But, Rich humbly admits she lost sight of the drive that had defined her career. “I lost my work ethic and passion for lacrosse,” Rich said when asked about her sophomore and junior year.
During her sophomore year, Rich played in all but one game, and recorded 29 goals and 37 total points.
In the following season, Rich started 7 of the 18 games and tallied 20 goals and 27 total points.
This trend looked promising as she headed into her senior season, but after her injury, she decided to use her time away from the field to refocus.
“The whole summer I decided to keep getting stronger and put in the work, so I could come back stronger for my fifth year,” Rich said.
Rich’s hard work has translated into this season – as of March 12, she is third in goals scored, second in assists, and tied for second in points.
The Lady Flames return to action on March 13, when they will take on Butler University at 3 p.m. at the Liberty Lacrosse Field.