Soon after completing her freshman season on the Yale field hockey team, forward Brooke Gogel ’14 realizeed she was developing a back injury. She was diagnosed with a herniated disk later that year and was unsure whether she would play field hockey again. After serving as the team’s manager during her sophomore year, Gogel debuted for the Bulldogs in this season’s 2-1 overtime win against Harvard Sept. 15. The News sat down with Gogel to discuss the team’s season, her injury and her goals for the year.
Q How is the season going so far?
A It’s good. We’ve gotten to play against a lot of really incredible teams and it’s been a really great opportunity for us. It’s been really fun. Everyone’s happy to play and we have a really great group and we have a really great senior class. Our leadership is strong with [captain] Maddy Sharp ’13 and the other three seniors, so I feel lucky.
Q When did you make your debut with the team since your injury?
A I came in as a freshman, played freshman season and then I got hurt, so I was out basically from January up until three or four weeks ago. The first game I played in was the Harvard game. I started playing earlier that week, so it was kind of a last minute decision.
Q Tell me about how that injury happened.
A I herniated a disk in my back, L4-L5. I think I did over a gradual kind of time period, probably some time between December and January, and then by mid to end of January, it was obvious that I had a serious injury and I got a couple of MRIs and had a disk herniation.
Q And that was December and January of your freshman year?
A Yes, of my freshman year.
Q Did you know immediately that you would be out for such a long period of time?
A No, initially I thought I’d be back by the next fall, because I got hurt in January. I knew I had a herniated disk by the end of January, so I had all the way until August to get better.
I thought that was plenty of time and started improving a lot. Then I went to a training camp in the summer and within 45 minutes, it herniated more, so I don’t know why that happened, but at that point I had to start over from square one again and was just in constant pain every day, so I couldn’t play. I started getting better, but I didn’t think my back was going to be strong enough to play again.
Q Did you expect never to be able to play again, or just not this year?
A I thought I’d never be able to play again. My back had been hurt for so long, it was about a year and ten months since I had done anything super physical. I had worked out, but it was not intense enough.
Q So what was the rehab process like?
A I got two epidurals. They really hurt but they’re supposed to take some of the pain away because a lot of the pain I had was nerve pain, and epidurals were supposed to help with that. But that didn’t really help, and I did physical therapy from January to November. I was out for a year and ten months with my back injury. I had worked out and done physical therapy, but it was nothing like playing a varsity sport. I did basically 11 months worth of physical therapy with both Yale physical therapists and trainers back home.
Q You stayed on with the team as manager last year. What was that experience like?
A It was good. I was really grateful to be able to be a part of the team even though I wasn’t playing. It was kind of the best case scenario I could have imagined without actually being able to play. It was really hard to watch the team play and not be able to contribute and not get on the field. I was happy I served as the team’s manager because it allowed me to remain part of the team and stay friends with all the players who I’m so close with.
Q What are your goals for the rest of the season — your goals and the goals for the team?
A Personally, not to get hurt again, protect my back — and I just want to contribute as much to the team as possible. I think we look really good and I’m excited for the rest of the season.