Soccer News: Alicia Piz on Her Road to Injury Deterrence
Alicia Piz, owner of The Catalyst Training Center in San Diego, chats with Diane Scavizzo on how she was injured as a soccer player and how she hopes to help other players avoid the painful road she took. Piz suffered from numerous ACL tears and other injuiries.
Born in Littleton, Colorado, Piz has lived in San Diego since 2004. With 6 knee surgeries (5 in 3 years) from injuries on the soccer field, Piz has traveled the road many wish to avoid. Piz played youth soccer for Real Colorado Soccer Club, U23 National Champion, Colorado State ODP Team, and Region IV Team. Piz attended NCAA - D1 San Diego State University and was Co-Captain. Piz played Forward and Attacking Center Midfield.
SNN: Do you remember what it felt like when you were first injured?
Alicia Piz: I was one of these players who was never really injured before I tore my ACL. The defender had the ball and she was out wide. She was going to clear it up line and I was going to try to block her clearance. I remember feeling my knee pop and hearing it crack – it went five or six time as it cracked all the way around. I felt it everywhere, not just on one side or another.
It all happened so quickly that it caught me by surprise.
I remember going down, and I was told by one of my teammate I had screamed in pain. Then I realized it didn’t hurt after I calmed down. After the shock of feeling and hearing the pop, I walked off to the sidelines and iced it for the rest of the game. It gradually became more painful during the game and began to swell.
It wasn’t until that night when I was walking to go to dinner with some teammates that I knew I had done something really wrong. My parents took me the next morning for an MRI.
Even the first doctor thought that it was a MCL and that I would be back in 6 to 8 weeks.
Piz @ SDSU - "My red-shirt junior year at SDSU as a starter after 5 knee surgeries."
SNN: You were in college at this time?
Alicia Piz: No it was before I was at SDSU. I was a high school senior in Denver and was 3 games into my last season.
SNN: It sounds like your injuiries were not properly diagnosed on the field.
2005 National U23 Champ at 18 years old after two knee surgeries
Alicia Piz: Both my first and second ACLs were incorrectly diagnosed on the field by the athletic trainers when the incident happened and shortly after by the orthopedic doctors. It wasn’t until the results of the MRI that the ACL injury became apparent.
Both times, the human eye and the touch were wrong. I think quite often mistakes like this happen.
SNN: You have sustained two ACL injuiries?
Alicia Piz: Yes.
SNN: Is it easy for trainers to realize an ACL is torn when they are on the field with a player?
Alicia Piz: No, of course not. Trainers do a good job recommending getting the proper tests and imaging done.
Any time there is significant swelling, reduction of range of motion or pain it is better to have that peace of mind to know what is wrong and to be able to move forward correctly.
SNN: How has what happened to you inspired you today?
Alicia Piz: I would have to say that going through the injuries I had have given me a complete purpose in life.
SNN: What is your background?
The Catalyst Training Center
Alicia Piz: I grew up being in the soccer business.
My parents owned and operated an indoor soccer arena in Denver and sold it when I was 12, and I said I would bring it back one day. Gong through these injuries gave me the idea of creating an advanced place to play and develop.
My injuries brought my soccer experience full circle.
SNN: Where did you play soccer?
Alicia Piz: I played ODP, regional and high level at college at SDSU.
The Catalyst Training Center, or TCTC as people have started to call it is the culmination of my personal experiences.
I have taken my soccer experiences and want to help other players avoid what I had to go through.
SNN: Do you see players on the same road you were on?
Alicia Piz: Yes because they love soccer, but also have some of the biggest tell-tale signs of being at a higher risk for injury, like the knees coming inward.
SNN: What are one of the symptoms you see often?
Alicia Piz had 5 knee surgeries in 3 years..
Within 36 months she spent 24 months in physical therapy and surgery.
In her 4.5 years on the Aztecs, 6 different girls tore ACLs.
RECOVERY TIPS :
1. Don't let the injury, the doctor, your coach, your family, or anyone/anything else make you a victim. Once you own the responsibility of the recovery and reconditioning the entire process will go much smoother.
2. Be strong enough to push through the pain, but be smart enough to pay attention to what your body is telling you. When you are honest with yourself about your limits and surround yourself with a supportive network of people you will ultimately get back to the place you were before the injury.
Alicia Piz: My hip to knee and toe alignment was not good when I was younger. I often see this in players coming to TCTC. It is important to correct this for lowering the risk for injury.
When I see the any signs that make players a higher risk for injuries, I want to share my knowledge and training so they can travel a safer soccer path then the one I experienced.
SNN: In one sentence, what is the purpose of your program?
Alicia Piz: Soccer-specific strength and conditioning that focuses on correct body mechanics will greatly reduce the risk of injury through the focus on body control before ball control.
SNN: So often you hear trainers and coaches speak on ball control and tactics but not often on how to properly position the body. What you say makes a lot of common sense.
Alicia Piz: After all the injuries on the field, one begins to realize how important it is to reduce the risk of injuries to prolong playing.
I wish I had known what I know now before when I was playing.
SNN: Do you miss playing?
Alicia Piz: I miss it so bad, and there is a lot to miss: the competitive intensity and sense of being part of a team. I hope to be able to get back at some point.
I look forward to the SDSU alum game every year. That is my one day to play.
SNN: What is your overall goal?
Alicia Piz: I know that injuries can’t always be prevented in any sport, but I want to help reduce the incident of unnecessary soccer injuries by making training programs like ours a standard in US youth soccer. I developed my business plan for this at 21 and started TCTC at 23.
SNN: How old are you now?
Alicia Piz: I'll be 26 next month and since I didn't grow up playing here I am eager to become more involved in San Diego’s soccer community.
Making a difference is what Piz is determined to do, and has already begun to accomplish that, if you speak with the players she trains.