By Britney Dixon | Sports Manager
Jam, crack, twist.
With a look of pure concentration, she took two steps, planted her feet in position and opened her shoulder just how she was always taught. A jump, a hit, and a hard landing on her right leg led to a jam, a crack, and a twist.
Some people instantly burst into tears at the pain this caused. Victoria Caruso simply laughed as her teammates helped her off the court.
“It didn’t hurt very much,” Caruso said. “I didn’t really think I did anything.”
Twenty-year-old Victoria Caruso, from Yonkers, New York, is a senior international business major at Roger Williams University and a setter on the university’s 12-6 women’s volleyball team. In the spring season of her sophomore year, Caruso was playing right side when she jumped for a hit and landed all her weight on her right leg, tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Soon after Caruso’s injury, the team’s other setter left the university. With only two freshmen coming into the position, the team was concerned for the upcoming season.
“[Junior year] was kind of like the big ‘I come out and play and take command of the court.’ It was supposed to be my year, but it had to be put on hold. That was a little frustrating,” Caruso said.
Crushed by the loss of Caruso on the court, her teammates helped her navigate around campus and adjust to her temporary lifestyle change. Head Coach Danielle Soubliere was able to help Caruso through her own experiences with a torn ACL.
Soubliere’s injury occurred around the same time as Caruso’s in the spring season of her freshman year. Although she had immediate surgery and was able to return to the court her sophomore year, Soubliere says she rushed the process.
“I can still remember the drill we were doing. It felt like someone bumped me at my knees — pretty much, hit me — and I just went down, but I guess nobody had even touched me,” Soubliere said.
Soubliere said she was able to help Caruso by knowing what type of pain she was enduring immediately after the impact and knowing what it felt like to sit out during games and practices.
The adjustment and seven-month recovery period were especially difficult for Caruso due to her active lifestyle. It was her first injury in her 12 years playing volleyball that she was not allowed to do any physical activity. Aside from volleyball, Caruso was missing out on hiking, surfing and snowboarding—some of her favorite pastimes.
Too eager to get back out there and active again, only two days after surgery Caruso stopped taking medications and the next day she retired her crutches.
Coming into this fall, Caruso was nervous to test her knee strength. She took every preseason running test with caution.
“I didn’t trust my knee to do what it was supposed to do,” Caruso said. “At this point—halfway through the season—I trust it. I trust it to do its job and if it cracks out of place it’s no big deal.”
With four more games left in their homestand and dealing with ongoing personal problems, Caruso continues to work through the mental and physical pain knowing her knee will never be perfect again.
After graduation, Caruso is considering moving back to Perugia, Italy where she studied abroad her junior year. Having family and friends in the area and not knowing if international business will be in her future, Caruso is eager to use her Italian minor to her advantage until she fine-tunes her plan.
“Vic definitely has that ‘spitfire’ competitive attitude and not having that out on the court, you could definitely see. She answers back and brings it, and we were lacking that without her,” Soubliere said. “But she found her way to do that from the sidelines.”