The Georgia midfielder and former Marist standout missed the entire 2011 season after tearing the ACL in her right knee, then lost the complete ’12 campaign after tearing the same ACL a second time.
Now a redshirt senior, Eddy is ready to take the field for the Bulldogs for the first time since the 2010 season. She was selected as one of three captains for the team.
“I will be cleared [to play] within the next couple of weeks,” Eddy said. “I have to do some last minute strengthening and agility work before they will probably clear me for full contact. I can do everything, except defending and tackles.”
Eddy said the knee is close to back to normal.
“I’m absolutely close to 100 percent,” Eddy said. “Physically, it’s about as sound as it’s ever been. I’ve just been trying to get back in shape and getting cleared [to play]. It’s as sound as it’s going to be – I’m just working on muscles that protect it.”
While the last couple of years have been tough for Eddy, she said she has tried to focus on her recovery and maintain a positive focus.
“Obviously, there have been my moments of devastation when it happened,” Eddy said. “After a couple of weeks, you’re disappointed. You miss it a lot, you miss playing. It’s frustrating and the time seems to drag on. I’ve been busy, focusing on my rehab, getting back into things, figuring out my role on the team. I’ve stayed busy. My trainers keep me busy and my coaches keep me busy. I see I have a role on the team, which is really encouraging.
“So, after two years, I’m ready to get back on the field – I absolutely can’t wait.”
Georgia coach Steve Holeman said he is looking forward to Eddy’s return to the lineup.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that Laura is coming back,” Holeman said. “We’ve missed her the last two years. She’s worked incredibly hard to come back. She was named one of our three team captains and that says a lot about her, since she hasn’t played the last two years.”
Eddy appeared to be establishing a successful college career for herself in her first two seasons at Georgia.
In her inaugural campaign in 2009, she was named SEC Freshman of the Year and was a second-team All-SEC selection.
As a sophomore in ’10, she was named to the SEC Championships All-Tournament team and was selected to the TopDrawerSoccer Watch List of college players on the rise.
“It’s crazy coming from the high school game to the college game,” Eddy said. “The pace is more intense on the physical level and the mental level. Those two years were a great two years of getting my level of play up to where it needs to be.”
Eddy’s rise to the top level of the college game came to a crashing halt when she went down with the torn ACL in her right knee during a preseason practice session before the 2011 season.
Instead of playing a key role on the field for Georgia during the ’11 campaign, Eddy was instead busy with recovering from surgery and then spending months after that in rehabilitation.
“There was no hope for me to come back that season,” Eddy said. “So, we decided to get the rehab done right away, as soon as they cleared it. Not rush it, do it within the normal timelines. My first practice back was within nine months.”
However, disaster struck again immediately for Eddy, who tore her surgically-repaired ACL again early in her first practice back.
Once again, she displayed the same positive and proactive attitude that she showed after her first injury.
“It happened and I pretty much knew it,” Eddy said. “But, everybody was trying to stay positive. You’re mentally like, ‘It’s done, I have another nine months of recovery – let’s get this show on the road.
“The second time was different, because we really took our time and not trying to make goals – just working with how my body felt and actually, it took a little longer. But, it was a lot less painful.”
Having missed the last two seasons, Eddy has a chance to gain an extra year at Georgia – though she technically has only one more year left as a redshirt senior.
“I have a fifth year coming up and after the fifth year, we actually apply for a sixth year,” Eddy said. “It’s not guaranteed that I will get it, but we’re hoping that I will.”
Eddy said the experiences of the last two years have been life-altering for her.
“It’s changed my entire work ethic – you have to work for everything,” Eddy said. “The whole thing is so taxing, physically and mentally. But, when you come out the other side, you are so much stronger in all aspects of soccer.
“It’s a blessing in disguise. Obviously, it’s not something I would wish upon anybody. It’s a learning experience. I know I have full faith that there is a reason for everything happening. So, I think we’re going to have an awesome two seasons and I’m grateful that I’m going to be a part of them.”
Eddy earned her spot at Georgia after an outstanding high school career at Marist — where she was named the Georgia State Player of the Year as a senior in 2009, was a NSCAA/Adidas High School All-American in ’08 and ’09 and led the War Eagles to the Class AAAA state title in ’08.
“Laura has shown tremendous versatility playing brilliantly as a defensive back and as a midfielder at Georgia,” Marist coach Sergio Stadler said. “Unfortunately, two successive knee injuries have prevented Laura from continuing to display her creativity, vision and total understanding of the game of soccer.
“Laura has managed to channel all her positive energy into her recovery and, hopefully, she will continue to blossom in the soccer world. I have great memories from Laura’s four years of contributions to Marist soccer and she deserves the best as she continues in her soccer journey.”