Like crutches, Emily Boyd and Bianca St. Georges are supporting each other in recovery

Both are on track to be cleared for full training in about a month. Each of them is being pushed by a different goal.

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Emily Boyd (left) and Bianca St. Georges

Red Stars goalkeeper Emily Boyd remembers rushing through the Frankfurt airport in a hurry to catch a connecting flight to Chicago in October. 

For someone in her condition, rushing meant riding shotgun in one of those airport golf carts while it sped by other travelers in the direction of her gate. She had no chance of making it on time walking on crutches.

Boyd had torn her anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus while playing for the Danish football club HB Køge following the 2020 Challenge Cup and was on her way back home for surgery. 

Playing for the Danish club was Boyd’s first experience overseas, and she pursued the opportunity to get consistent game action. As the No. 2 goalkeeper on the Red Stars’ depth chart, that’s not an easy task here when Alyssa Naeher is the No. 1. 

“I’m a huge planner, so it just kind of ruined my plans for the 2021 season,” Boyd said. “I was hoping to come in and play when Alyssa was gone.”

When she got home from surgery, Boyd was aided by a capable support system. Her roommate, defender Bianca St. Georges, had suffered a meniscus tear in her right knee nearly two years before, so she understood exactly what Boyd was feeling. 

The two fell into a groove that included deep conversations about life, diving into existential questions in pursuit of a better understanding of its highs and lows.

In supporting Boyd, St. Georges felt like she was going through the recovery process again. It turned out, four months later, she would be. 

St. Georges sustained her second knee injury in February at training camp with the Canadian National Team. She said she knew almost instantly it was the same injury as before, only this time it was her left knee. 

St. Georges went in for surgery, not knowing if she’d be out for six weeks or six months. 

“The thing with your meniscus is you don’t know how big the tear is until you’re in surgery,” St. Georges said. 

She woke up and was told it was just a cleanup surgery. She had her meniscus cut out and would have about a six-week recovery period. 

St. Georges came home to find Boyd had prepared their apartment for the worst-case scenario. Her room was turned into a full-on oasis complete with ice, water, snacks and reading material all within arm’s reach, just in case St. Georges was immobile. 

They’ve each had vastly different roads to recovery. For Boyd, who just hit the five-month mark, it has been a slow, meticulous process. She’s running again and training with the Red Stars in a limited capacity.

St. Georges, who is at the two-week mark in her recovery, just started biking again. Up to this point, she has been limited to physical therapy and using the Peloton app to get in an arm workout. 

Despite being at different points in their recovery, the two are healing in tandem. 

“When I see her roll out the yoga mat and work on her arms, because that’s all she can do right now, I’m motivated to go kill my run for the day because I know she’s working hard too,” Boyd said.

St. Georges hasn’t returned to training yet, so her contact with the team has been limited. But coach Rory Dames checks in every day to see how she’s feeling.  

Both players are on track to be cleared for full training in about a month. Each of them is being pushed by a different goal. 

St. Georges has her eyes set on making the Canadian National Team’s roster for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. 

She has spoken with Canada’s coach, Bev Priestman, multiple times since having surgery. Priestman has reassured St. Georges she’ll be back with the team once she’s healthy. 

Boyd’s end goal is to be a starting goalkeeper in the National Women’s Soccer League. She knows it’s likely that won’t be with the Red Stars. She said as a goalkeeper, you can’t ever get attached to one city. You go where you’re needed. 

Both are focused on winning with the Red Stars. The team goal, Boyd said, is to win the Challenge Cup title and the NWSL Championship this season. 

“We have complete control over our fate,” St. Georges said. “We have the talent. We have the team. We have the staff. They’re just missing two people right now, and they are right here.”

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