University of Alabama at Birmingham
Alex Otto, Hinsdale native and Hinsdale Central graduate, is
currently a freshmen soccer player at University of Alabama at
Birmingham. She has dealt with a myriad of injuries throughout her career
but attributes strength training and physical therapy as the key to
prevention. She is currently battling shin splints and chronic low back pain.
The injuries slow her down in practice and training but with physical
therapy at Achieve Orthopedic Rehab Institute and rehab at school, she
manages to continue training at a high level of intensity.
Chronic injuries, like her low back pain, are hard to avoid in
collegiate athletes. The high intensity practices and the frequency of
training can often lead to these overuse injuries. Alex has been able to find
a combination of treatment and training to allow her to continuous perform
at her highest capacity.
This is important since Alex has had enough adversity to overcome
while playing soccer. She has always had to prove herself to every coach,
from club to college. In high school she made JV her junior year but knew
she could do better. She went to extra practices and did strength training
on her own (even gave up her spring break) in order to improve and show
the coach she deserved to be on varsity. It paid off when in the same year,
her team made it to the state finals and she scored in the super sectional
Her improved performance also paid off when it came time to
choose a college. After ruling out Boston University and Colorado State,
Alex considered University of Chicago. It was a contender but the time
commitment academically would have left her little time outside of school
and soccer. Her other top choices were Bard College, Elmhurst College
and of course UAB which she chose based on their highly ranked physical
therapy program, soccer coach and the atmosphere of campus.
After going through the whole recruitment process, Alex learned
what she would have done differently. Because she was the oldest, her
parents had no idea when recruitment began so she says starting early is
important. As freshman and sophomores, athletes should email coaches at
schools they are interested in then, keep options open to many schools.
The list will dwindle down over time. She also knows firsthand that even as
a junior or senior, it’s never too late to decide on playing in college as long
as you work hard and keep in contact with those colleges you want. She
didn’t commit until the summer before her senior year!
Now that Alex is a collegiate soccer player, she has a plethora of
wisdom to bestow on younger athletes. Firstly, never getting discouraged
is important to being successful. Second, If an individual is passionate
about soccer (or any sport), it is important to stay passionate. And finally,
you can physically work through anything, but you have to stay mentally
strong to overcome adversity.