She’s been a star for her team, but the road has not always been paved with gold.
As a successful NCAA Division I institution, Niagara University allures student-athletes from all over the world to become Purple Eagles. Though athletes from beyond North America have historically not been very common at Niagara, the school boasts quite a few international standouts. One of the most interesting cases is England’s Amelia Gulley, a star for women’s soccer.
Given that soccer is a cultural staple in Europe, one would think that a person like Gulley coming to North America for the game would be a foolish move. But soccer was not the only thing she was seeking when she arrived in the United States.
“University and soccer don’t come together in England, so it seemed to make more practical sense to come to America on a soccer scholarship,” Gulley said. “If I stayed at home, I would have been attending a university then traveling for potentially a couple of hours a day, in order to play on a professional team. It would have been very expensive and impractical. ”
Peter Veltri’s team at Niagara impressed Gulley, and in 2014 she arrived in Lewiston. Leaving the United Kingdom was a risky choice on her behalf, seeing as she was one of the best amateur players in England at the time, but the move paid immediate dividends. The defender was named to the All-MAAC Second Team in each of her first two seasons while breathing new life into Women’s Soccer. But the British superstar’s skyrocketing career took an unexpected downturn in 2016.
Just three games into her team’s 2016 season, a recurring knee issue forced Gulley to the sidelines. It was not the first time that this issue had arisen, but it was its most severe occurrence. In late-October 2016, after already having missed the entire season, Gulley opted to have her right knee surgically repaired and has been on the road to recovery ever since.
Injuries are a part of sports and they are an obstacle that all athletes face at one point or another. Gulley stated that the battle has been physically tough for her, but the mental weight of the situation was equally troubling.
“My redshirt-year was definitely something which tested me emotionally and physically,” she said. “Having an injury which cannot be truly fixed, due to the anatomy of my knees has been one of the hardest emotional and physical battles.”
Throughout her injury and recovery process, the now redshirt junior has taken inspiration from the people around her, who have helped her stay focused on moving forward.
“Being surrounded by a team full of people coming back from serious injuries has been a real big help for me personally,” she added. “Seeing people push themselves everyday emotionally and physically only supports and inspires you to do just that.”
Gulley stated that her battle to return to the field has made her a better and stronger person. Her determination and spirit throughout the obstacles she has faced is truly admirable. Gulley is expected to return for the 2017 season, and from the looks of it, she will be better than ever.