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Maggie Wigoda: Reflecting on change

After joining The Hidden Opponent organization in August, I began to feel like I was in a funk, and everything came so fast at me. I felt as though I was trying to dodge invisible bullets. My senior year of college was going to be hard, and I made myself think that I was just going to fail and quit the team. I had many things that were due and was anxious for basketball to start since COVID canceled our previous season. I began the year by hoping to make fun memories and doing well in school. During the first two months of my semester, I struggled. I was anxious all the time, I felt like I was always doing something wrong, and the fear of not being accepted into Graduate School for early acceptance lingered.

I made some memories within that time, but I focused on the minor negatives rather than all the good I had around me. Around the end of October and after midterms, everything began to feel better, and I could finally see past all the "bad" I had focused on before. My biggest accomplishment was being accepted into ESU's Communications, Sciences & Disorders Graduate Program, which I started in the fall of 2022! When we had our first scrimmage for basketball, I did not realize it would be the last game of my college career. Unfortunately, in early November, I had gotten injured during practice and came to find out it was my ACL. This meant that I would have to get surgery and sit out for the rest of my senior season.

At first, I was a mess with the thought that I would never play again. It made me realize how much I loved the sport and how grateful I was for all the people it has brought me over the years. I also never realized how fortunate I truly was to never have any major injury until that moment. It made me mentally stronger and pushed me to become a different part of our team's puzzle. I became the most supportive teammate and always the loudest. I wanted nothing but to see everyone be the best version of themselves because I know how much harder everything is when you aren't. Since receiving the news from my MRI, I worked every day to be better and stronger than the last. On December 16th, 2021, I had my surgery. This would be the start of my new journey to getting back to my full self physically and ultimately mentally. I have had many different milestones after the first five weeks. The main ones were walking without a brace, using my new brace, getting around on the bike, and bending my knee past 115 degrees. I saw growth throughout my journey, and it was quite amazing. I have realized that I am more than my injury and the sport will always be there but in a different way once.

I decided that I would not be continuing basketball because the best fit for me would be to continue at ESU but focus my time on my master’s degree and still advocate the message of The Hidden Opponent. My senior night was the day after my 22nd birthday and I was extremely excited, but at the same time, I was sad about how quickly it had all gone. Life is crazy sometimes, but at the end of the day, I just tell myself, “It is what it is” and I must keep moving on and not look back. With that being said, I got a tattoo of a certain saying and had my 5 intermediate family members each write a word. It is on my left wrist so I can see it every time I turn my wrist to look at my watch. It is a constant reminder that I never realized I always needed.

I wrote my first portion in January of 2022; a whole year has gone by. Many things in my life have changed; people have left my life as more people have entered, and I am no longer an NCAA athlete, but I do still advocate highly for them through THO. I was finally cleared by my surgeon to continue doing everyday things without restrictions! Now, reflecting on this past year, I realize how fortunate I am to be where I am in my life. I would have never imagined that I would be surrounded by so much love and see how many people are affected by what the chapter and I have been able to do. A few of the main highlights from this past year were receiving one of the highest non-academic awards ESU rewards to a student named the leadership award, serving in my second missions trip in the Dominican Republic, persevering in the hardest semester I have yet to face, and continuously growing the chapter of THO on campus! I am unbelievably grateful for my support system and those around me that have helped me get to this point. Without them, I would not be where I am now. Last year’s motto was “it is okay to not be okay” and this year is the same but with, “but it is not okay to stay that way,” in the wise words of the queen herself Victoria Garrick.

I thank those who took the time to read a little of my story. If you feel like you are the only one who feels alone, lost, and broken, I can promise you that you are not. Reach out to the people you care about and check-in, you never know if it can ultimately save their life.

To read more about Maggie and her story, check out the article published on Unbreakable Female Athlete.


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