“I’m feeling optimistic about the new season.”
For Lambton College striker Aaran Pollock, having a high sense of optimism heading into the 2019 season is something that he hasn’t had in quite some time. After suffering heartbreaking injuries early on in each of the last two seasons, Pollock hasn’t seen much of the field in OCAA competition.
In fact, he’s played less than 60 minutes combined over his first two seasons as a member of the Lions men's soccer team.
Pollock began playing for the Lions back in 2017, and he was barely able to get a taste of intercollegiate competition before suffering a season-ending injury. In the team’s second game against St. Clair College, Pollock suffered a broken left scapula, an injury that would force him to miss the rest of the season.
Last season, while he had a renewed sense of optimism and his scapula being fully healed, he got hit with more bad news early on in the year.
“In training, I had a recurring quad injury that ended up just being an overexertion,” said Pollock. “In our first game against Fanshawe, just after halftime I went to go clear a ball and as soon as I kicked the ball, my quad shot right up my leg.”
“It looked like a giant tennis ball under my skin.”
Pollock’s season was over, or so it seemed at the time.
However, he remained optimistic that he would recover and make it back onto the field again throughout the season.
“I was told that would be a four-week recovery from there,” added Pollock. “I was hopeful that I could play the final two games of the year”.
Despite the positive outlook, things didn’t go as planned. The pain lingered throughout the year, his quad didn’t fully recover, and Pollock ended up missing the rest of the 2018 season.
For most, suffering consecutive season ending injuries would have pushed some away from the game. Pollock isn’t like most. Showcasing his resilience and determination, he still remained actively involved with the team throughout the season, consistently helping out wherever he could.
At the year-end Athletics & Recreation Awards Banquet, Pollock was given the Male Spirit of Sport Award, along with Journee Joseph of the men’s basketball team.
As a team, the Lions didn’t fare too well on the field. They posted a record of 0-10 in OCAA play, and it was their second consecutive season being held out of the win column. Despite the team’s recent results on the field, Pollock enters the new season filled with a heightened sense of optimism, not only for himself but the team as a whole.
“I feel like the expectations around us are going to be doubtful,” said Pollock. “I feel that hard work and determination are going to bring us to where we want to be.”
As one of the veterans on this year’s team, Pollock is ready to take on more of a leadership role with the program, both on the field and in the classroom. Pollock is entering his second year of Practical Nursing at Lambton College, and he will look to be a leader for the team in both aspects of the student-athlete lifestyle.
“My personal goals are to be able to stay successful with my Nursing program, as well as be successful both on and off the field with the guys I’m going to be playing with this year,” continued Pollock. “The leadership that is going to be brought to the team is going to impact how the season goes.”
“I feel that this year we are really going to turn it around.”
Ahead of open tryouts for the program, Pollock managed to get in some rest and recovery before taking to the field to start the school year. That added more fuel to the fire, and it took his optimism to another level.
“I’ve had a lot of healing time ahead of tryouts,” said Pollock. “My leg is feeling better so I’m feeling optimistic about the new season.”
Over 30 players attended the team’s first tryout of the season on the first day of school, giving Head Coach Shane Bettridge his share of talent on the field to build a team. It also allows the team to build around the group of returnees and start to form relationships with one another.
“I feel that the team we’re going to have this season is going to be a very cohesive unit,” added Pollock. “There are a lot of good, core guys returning and I feel that we’ll be able to build a good squad around that.”
“You can’t really ask for much more than that.”
Pollock and the men's soccer team are set to kick off their 2019 campaign on their home field against the visiting Conestoga Condors on Saturday, September 7th.
Looking back at what he’s been able to overcome, many people would have called it quits if they were in Pollock’s shoes. Despite suffering a season-ending injury in consecutive seasons, Pollock remained optimistic about the recovery process and he put in the work to get himself healthy ahead of the 2019 season.
He was around the team last season, supporting his teammates from the sidelines through the ups and downs of the season. This season, he looks to be a key contributor for the Lions as they look to turn things around.
The turnaround all starts with the team and their mindset coming into the season. The team needs to buy into the process, and it all starts with their veteran leaders.
As one of the veterans, Pollock is filled with a heightened sense of optimism, one that will surely be contagious with the team as the season gets underway.
And, like Pollock said, you can’t ask for much more than that.