By Randall Ferdinand
The end of the season is always a tough time for student-athletes, but when the season is cut short unexpectedly, it can be even harder. Erik Lindaas, a member of the Johnson & Wales University men's lacrosse team, wasn't sure if he was going to play his senior year after a back injury, but he returned for his best season as a Wildcat.
Towards the end of March 2018, Lindaas said one day during practice he began to feel a lot of discomfort in his lower back. He met with athletic trainer Jillian Withington and it was discovered that he had a stress fracture in his lower back.
The process of healing a stress fracture can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks depending on the severity of the injury. Doctors told Lindaas he had to wear a back brace for three months and that he had to limit his movements if he wanted to heal faster.
"It was tough being in a brace because I didn't know if I would be able to play again," Lindaas said "Even the thought of not knowing if I'll be able to run around and be active crossed my mind every day."
After three months in the back brace, Lindaas was ready to start physical therapy with the JWU athletic trainers. He was cleared to return to play in January 2019. Lindaas had a new pre and post-practice routine, returning to the training room daily to go through a series of exercises with Withington.
"When the season started, I was super nervous to throw and shoot around because it required a ton of back movement," Lindaas said. "I felt out of place because I hadn't really touched a stick since I was told I injured my back. It took a couple of practices to just get back into a rhythm and get a feel for the game to get me going.
"My teammates and coaches kept me in good spirit and motivated me to keep pushing through the adversity. Going through rehab with Jillian after each practice was a huge reason why I was able to play again and I'm very grateful for what she was able to do for me."
When the 2018 team was defeating Norwich University to win the program's first GNAC Championship, Lindaas was on the sideline in his back brace. He returned this year to help the Wildcats advance to the semifinals of the GNAC tournament thanks to an upset of Saint Joseph's (Me.).
A native of Milton, Pa., majoring in advertising and communications, Lindaas finished the year ranked 10th in the GNAC with a career-high 38 goals. He concluded his career fifth in school history with 82 goals and 108 points.