ZEELAND, Mich. -- Zeeland East girls soccer goalie, Erica Potter, was an all-conference goalie until her life was shatted back in December when she was in a car accident on the way home from a Christmas party.
Her Coach, Jonathan Elgersma remembers it perfectly. “Yeah I got the call that night. I went up to the hospital to visit her right away. I just committed immediately to that journey as a coach and as a program. We made sure everybody knew across the entire program what was going on and the support that we needed to have for Erica in the middle of that journey as well as the entire Potter family.”
Erica suffered a traumatic brain injury, bleeding from her brain in three places. Her future was suddenly unknown.
“I was verbally committed to play soccer at Olivet College next year and the doctors weren’t sure if I would ever play soccer again, " the senior said. "In that time period when I was waiting to hear from the doctors, is it okay for me to play at the next level? I decided myself that even the fact that they’re hesitating means something that I probably don’t want to risk.”
And while Erica has made it through the recovery process with the support of the community, the experience has changed her outlook on life and soccer. “One of the hardest parts of recovery was that fear of would I be able to play soccer again? Because a lot of my self-worth was put in the fact that I played soccer and I was pretty good at it. And that actually makes me see the game of soccer and see sports a lot differently. Because sports are an opportunity, not everyone gets to play them, which I’m so happy that I get to play again."
Erica made it back in net for her senior year with some adjustment, and while she won't be playing college, her strength in this process has been amazing.
“To live into the fullness of resiliency, not just on the soccer field, but what does that mean in life?" coach Elgersma said. "Erica has proved that her character is not one that easily broken. Instead it’s a character that will get back up even when the challenges of life come.”