Dr. Robert H. Schuller, a televangelist, once wrote a book titled “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!” It is safe to say that in what should have been a sizzling sequel to her America East All-Rookie Team freshman year, redshirt sophomore Raven Edwards went through more than tough times. Yet somehow, the soccer forward with a knack for timely striking is still around, strong as she has ever been.
For an athlete, hearing anything regarding three letters is a scary thought. The anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament (ACL and LCL, respectively) are vital to those who play sports, even though they are never heard of during times of success. Tear one and walking, let alone running while playing an elite Division I sport will not be the same.
Edwards tore her ACL and partially tore her LCL. Not a very fun combination. “It doesn’t hurt anymore, I don’t think about it anymore,” she said about her injury. The would-have-been junior missed out on an exciting conference season, as the Seawolves took home a share of the regular season crown, falling just short in a thrilling championship game. It is not easy to watch that from the sidelines, but Edwards had no choice. All she could do is be ready for this year.
One would think making sharp cuts and sprinting towards the opposing goalkeeper with defenders chomping at the bit to take her down would phase the New Jersey native. “It’s all mental,” she said. “And I’m pretty good there.” Seawolves everywhere could tell, as Edwards has led the team in goals so far this season, not showing many signs of any injury at all.
With two goals in the back of the net before conference play has even showed up at the door, Edwards still feels she can do much more for her team. She aspires to have “more of a presence on the field and demanding the ball more,” she said.
Demand the ball more? Not something somebody coming back from devastating injuries would usually jump at, as many worry about reinjuring themselves. But as Schuller said, “tough people last.”
As the season ticks along second by second, every player has a way to improve her game and her contributions to the overall play of the team.
“Just being that leading, scoring force up top and finishing,” she said.
For Edwards, this is what it’s all about. With scoring comes the important role of a leader, as the rest of the players on the pitch are relying on the strikers to put a number on the scoreboard. Does that role bother Edwards a lot?
“I don’t mind it at all. It’s nothing new for me,” she said. “I’ve always been on teams where scoring is important. I just look at it as another challenge,” the psychology major added.
If the four-year high school varsity letterwinner is able to overcome the hurdles of sitting out because of major injuries, working to act as a strong leader should not be too tough for her.
“Being injured just makes you want to be back on the field even more.,” Edwards said, and it is that passion that has helped lead the team to big wins, especially against the likes of Siena, to whom the Seawolves dropped a 3-2 decision.
Soccer runs in the Edwards family, as Chris, her brother and former Rutgers standout, currently plays professionally in Poland for Wisla Pulawy. When asked who Edwards emulates, the easy answer would have been the likes of Mia Hamm or Alex Morgan.
“I look up to my brother,” Edwards said quickly. “Even though we don’t play the same position, he’s always trying to make me better.”
With a mind fit enough to combat a torn ACL and partially torn LCL, it is easy to assume taking advice from someone who proved on the field that they know what it takes to be successful is a given.
“I just follow after him, because I just look up to him so much,” Edwards said.
With only a couple of games left in conference play, emulating the play of a professional may just be what the Seawolves need to roar into the home stretch, looking to overcome last season’s disappointment with hard-earned success.