Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Still hurting, Frank plays despite pain

It was just her third fall practice and Meredith Frank knew something was wrong. Seriously wrong.

During one-on-one drills on Sept. 27, the junior midfielder fell to the ground and thought she had torn her Achilles’ tendon.

“I didn’t have any of the symptoms people have before they tear it,” Frank said. “Even though it never happened to me before, I was pretty certain that it was completely torn.”

Tests later that week confirmed her fears.

Frank was coming off a breakout 2007 campaign in which she named an All-American and was second on the Wildcats with 61 goals.

Having never dealt with a player with a torn Achilles, Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller feared the worst.

“When people told me it was a season-ending injury, I thought it was tough luck,” Amonte Hiller said. “We were really looking for Meredith to step into some of the midfield roles we lost from graduation last year.”

Even former athletic director Mark Murphy told Amonte Hiller he didn’t expect to see Frank playing again this season.

Knowing Frank’s work ethic and love of lacrosse, her teammates took a different view from the coaching staff in the immediate aftermath of the injury.

“I knew she would come back fast,” junior Hilary Bowen said. “Recovery was supposed to be six months to a year, but I knew at the latest she would be back in six months.”

The support from her teammates and a positive mental attitude helped Frank speed her recovery and, by the start of Winter Quarter, she was thinking about playing again.

This season, not next.

“She started to get in the mix and told me, ‘Coach, I want to come back. I want in there and I’m going to do it,'” Amonte Hiller said. “She has worked countless hours outside of practice to get her body where it needs to be.”

Frank missed only the first three games of the season. On March 7, less than six months after her injury, she was back in action for the Cats. Frank started in their first home game, scoring two goals and recording three assists.

While she was not at full strength, Frank impressed even herself with the speed of her recovery.

“It’s pretty remarkable that I only missed three games,” she said “I thought the best-case scenario was that I would be back in April. Maybe.”

Even though she only scored 25 goals this season, Frank said just being on the field is good enough for her, and she knows she can’t push her recovery any faster.

“I have pain consistently,” Frank said. “It’s from being weak and from pushing myself to get back. Right now it’s all about time and strength, and I can’t do a thousand calf-raises a day and expect to be 100 percent.”

As NU continues its run towards a fourth consecutive NCAA title, the Cats said they were confident Frank’s stellar play from last year (20 goals in six playoff games) will resurface this weekend against No. 8 seed Princeton.

The last time the teams met was in the 2005 NCAA quarterfinals, which NU won 8-6 on its way to its first national championship.

Even at less than full strength, having Frank in the lineup makes this team better.

“Whether she is 50, 60, 80 percent, she is a very valuable player,” Amonte Hiller said. “She is one of the smartest players I’ve worked with. Even if you don’t have all the physical capabilities, if you are that smart, you add a lot of value. She is such a clutch player. Whenever you need something big done, she can do it.”

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Still hurting, Frank plays despite pain