Young soccer players get back on the field after ACL surgery

Ascension Michigan Sports Medicine cares for competitive athletes, active youth, and adults of all ages with an active lifestyle.

Melaina Troy (Left) and Avery Fraiser (Left) bump fists.

Melaina Troy and Avery Fraser are best friends, next door neighbors, and Division 1 high school athletes. They share a passion for sports and especially a love for soccer. With so much in common, it seems oddly fitting that they shared the same sports injury in their knees — a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus.

Both teens were referred to Dr. Nathan Marshall, an Ascension Michigan Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeon.

“An ACL tear is an injury to the main stabilizing structure of the knee, typically from playing sports,” said Dr. Marshall. “Once the ACL is torn, we do what we call a ‘full reconstruction.’ Basically we replace that ligament with a brand-new ligament that we harvest from other tendons in the body.”

“It was overwhelming,” said Melaina thinking back on her first visit with Dr. Marshall.

A year later, Avery suffered the same injury. “All I could think was, “I can’t play soccer anymore,” she said.

But that wasn’t the case.

“An ACL injury can be devastating for athletes,” said Dr. Marshall. “It’s scary. It feels like you may never get back to where you were. I want patients to be reassured that they can get back to where they were. We try to instill that from the very first time we meet a patient and every time we see them at every stage of their care.”

Care for a sports injury may involve initial imaging, prevention of further injury, management of pain and disability, physical rehabilitation and in some cases surgery. At Ascension Michigan, we connect the dots for patients. If surgery is recommended as part of a personalized care plan, we have the team to provide it. Sports medicine fellowship-trained doctors and orthopedic surgeons at Ascension Michigan Sports Medicine sites of care diagnose and treat competitive athletes and active teens and adults of all ages. Our surgeons specialize in surgical options for sports-related injuries, hand surgery, reconstructive bone fracture surgery, hip, shoulder and knee surgery, and spine surgery.

Ascension Michigan Sports Medicine care teams support athletes, even outside of the doctor’s office. Through Ascension Michigan’s Sports Medicine Trainer Program, Melaina and Avery have an athletic trainer assigned to their high school who aided their recovery.

“Our sports medicine program starts with our athletic trainers and our school programs,” said Dr. Marshall. The athletic trainers, he explained, are Ascension Michigan’s boots on the ground, preventing and addressing injuries on-site. “Because of our interconnected network, our athletic trainers can refer patients to our sports medicine primary care doctors. From there, our primary care doctors can refer to an orthopedic surgeon as well as order physical therapy.

Now, Avery is in her final stage of physical therapy and Melania is back to playing soccer. Both emphasized the importance of their Ascension Michigan care team throughout their healing journeys.

“Thank you for making my journey easier,” said Melaina.

“My message to everyone who has helped me — thank you so much. You’ve helped me stay positive and got me back to being who I was,” said Avery.

Appointments are available with doctors and care teams at Ascension Michigan Sports Medicine sites of care. Schedule a first appointment or second opinion consultation at