#FOCUSDisruption: Kylinn Kraemer’s mental health journey amid injury

#FocusDisruption is an all-media collaboration of the Montclair State School of Communication and Media. Our goal is to report stories that highlight the effects or disruptions of the past two years and the solutions that have emerged. All aspects of everyday life have been changed, but we will mainly focus on how mental health, education and the workplace have changed.

The Montclair State University women’s soccer team had their stellar season cut short in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Hope was lost and a sense of confusion gripped senior defender Kylinn Kraemer as she went through unimaginable trouble.

Before the pandemic, Kraemer was an important asset to the team. She played long minutes for the Red Hawks in her first two seasons, starting with a career-high 16 games in 2019. Unfortunately, she suffered an ACL tear in her right knee in January 2021 during a pick-up football game.

Kraemer credits his therapist and help from CAPS for helping his mental health issues.
Photo courtesy of Kylinn Kraemer

The injury would see him miss two seasons of football – the spring 2021 season shortened by COVID-19 and because it was only seven months after his surgery, a “normal” autumn 2021 season as well. For Kraemer, there was a sense of despair at not being able to play the sport she loved while being isolated from friends and family due to restrictions.

Despite the injury and the pandemic hanging over her, Kraemer believes there were upsides.

“Most importantly, we were forced to consider our own health,” Kraemer said. “I personally went through all the normal challenges that the pandemic has brought, but I also tore my ACL during this time. I think the pandemic has prepared me to handle this injury better.

However, it was not an easy journey to achieve this state of mind. Being isolated from her teammates and having to improve physically also has a mental impact.

Kraemer’s recovery time has not gone unnoticed by her teammates.

First-year defenseman Emmi Denovellis was one of those teammates inspired by Kraemer’s mental toughness during her absence from the field.

“She’s a tough kid. She went through her ACL injury from her junior to her senior year,” Denovellis said. not to give up.”

First-year defenseman Emmi Denovellis is grateful for the help and veteran leadership Kraemar has given her.  Photo courtesy of Kylinn Kraemar

First-year defenseman Emmi Denovellis is grateful for the help and veteran leadership Kraemer has given her.
Photo courtesy of Kylinn Kraemer

Going through an injury can be difficult for an athlete under normal circumstances, but going through it when the world also seems broken makes the process even harder.

“It was hard with [COVID-19] not being able to control what’s going on, and when you’re not able to control what’s going on in the world around you, all you can control is yourself,” Kraemer said. “And when I got injured, it also took that other part of the control away. Now, with my injury, I couldn’t control myself either.

During physical therapy, she confided strongly in her therapist to also guide her through the mental blocks. The feeling of being alone during the injury and being stuck in confinement was finally gone.

“I started talking to my therapist to get me through the mental challenges of not being in control of the situation,” Kraemer said. “It was great to have someone to talk about all the obstacles that [COVID-19] and my wound brought me.

On campus, there are many resources to help students manage their mental health. Kraemer shared that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a service provided to Montclair State students, was one of the biggest supports for her during this time.

“Over the past two months we’ve had incredible speakers come and talk to us about the different mental health issues that we face, especially as athletes,” Kraemer said. “I have personally been extremely grateful to CAPS for helping me through some difficult times and highly recommend seeking their help if you are a student at [Montclair State].”

Seeking help from CAPS resulted in a new mindset for Kraemer. With the injury, there was a sense of hopelessness, but counseling across the department led to her finding a new role for her team while still injured.

“[My therapist] helped me accept my new role in the team…supporting them on the sidelines and [making sure] to not rush with my injury, and also to realize that I was struggling a lot with my injury because of the control aspect because I always want to be in control,” Kraemer said. “And my mental health, in general, being able to talk to someone and give them feedback has been really helpful.”

Kraemer also acknowledged that women’s football head coach Patrick Naughter is a big advocate for mental health and has created an environment in which discussing the subject is normal.

“Our head coach has always been supportive when it comes to mental health, even before the pandemic. But, I think COVID-19 has brought mental health hurdles to all of us, rather than just a few. said Kraemer. “As these obstacles continue to affect us, mental health is something that is normalized within our team for sure”

Members of the women's soccer team, like head coach Patrick Naughter, have championed the cause of mental health more than ever.  Photo courtesy of Kylinn Kraemar

Members of the women’s soccer team, like head coach Patrick Naughter, have championed the cause of mental health more than ever.
Photo courtesy of Kylinn Kraemer

Kraemer was able to develop a sense of self-awareness throughout his absence from the field and his search for help. She began to realize that the only reason she would come back to play was if she was fully comfortable with herself.

“It hasn’t been difficult to come back just because I feel confident after all the rehab I’ve been doing for the past few years,” Kraemer said. “You just have to do it. If you’re doing half the effort or playing scared, that’s how you get hurt.

As Kraemer completes her senior year here at Montclair State, there’s the question of whether she’ll return for her fifth year and continue to hold the defensive line for the women’s soccer team.

The answer is yes.

“I felt like my last two years had been stripped away from me,” Kraemer said. “I [want] finish my time here as an athlete on my terms and prove to myself that I can be resilient and come back from all of this. And to have fun. So far everything was really worth it.

Leave a Comment