May 9, 2014
WASHINGTON - When you ask Georgetown senior attacker Jody Cumberpatch about her final season representing the Hoyas, she insists without any hesitation that she's just happy to be out there on the field with the rest of her teammates.
When you consider all of what Cumberpatch has been through during - and even right before - her time on the Hilltop as a member Coach Ricky Fried's highly successful program, you have no choice but to take her at her word.
After committing to Georgetown as a junior in high school, the Annapolis native went into her senior season all pumped up to enjoy one last campaign before heading off to college.
But just as her senior season was getting into full swing, Cumberpatch suffered a cruel fate on April Fool's Day 2010. After initially thinking she had just tweaked her right knee during a game, Cumberpatch learned that she had torn her right ACL - an injury unfortunately all too common in female athletes.
"Luckily I had already committed to Georgetown so I wasn't worried about that which was a nice weight off my shoulders," Cumberpatch remembered.
"But it definitely wasn't what I was expecting for my senior year to be standing on the sidelines."
For Coach Fried it was a first - having a player show up to campus freshman year while rehabbing a major injury - but he immediately found a positive in the situation.
After first monitoring Cumberpatch's condition from afar and then seeing all of the hard work she was putting in up close, Coach Fried knew he had something special.
"I think being out actually helped her in some ways because she was able to visualize and see what was happening as opposed to being put right into the mix right away," Coach Fried explained.
"While she would have rather be on the field, I think she learned a lot that freshman year which pushed her. [She] did a great job and came back and earned a starting position and did a great job for us."
Cumberpatch agreed with her coach's assessment.
"At Georgetown we're known for being one of the smartest teams in the NCAA Division I and it's definitely a lot coming in as a freshman," said Cumberpatch.
"There's a lot to learn, there's a big learning curve so in some ways it was great because I was able to come in an observe and learn what to do and what not to do. Overall I would say it was definitely a positive and it pushed me to want to be better and to want me to get back on the field but it was definitely tough."
Despite playing just three games towards the end of the 2011 season it wouldn't take Cumberpatch very long to get back on the field as she laid an important foundation during her freshman campaign. She started all 17 games as a sophomore - her first full season of lacrosse since 2009 - and notched a team high 10 assists to go along with seven goals.
Entering her junior season the sky was the limit for Cumberpatch. Not only did she want to take the next step on the field and improve her already impressive numbers but she also wanted to have an increased leadership role as an upperclassmen.
And then during the first rep of the first drill on the first day of fall ball, Cumberpatch planted wrong and just like that she had torn her other ACL. After all of the progress she had made since stepping onto campus, Cumberpatch was back to square one.
"That was definitely one of the harder moments of my life," Cumberpatch recalled.
Knowing that most of her junior season would be lost, Cumberpatch had some choices to make in how she was going to handle her second ACL tear.
"I had to make a decision if I wanted to feel sorry for myself - and there were definitely days where I felt sorry for myself - or I could do something about it and make something of the situation."
She decided that instead of just being on the sidelines and getting through the year she would basically act as another coach in helping her teammates that needed to step up in her absence.
"I decided that I wanted to be a leader off the field because I couldn't be one on the field. I think it's honestly been one of the best experiences of my entire life it sounds so cheesy but I think I wouldn't be the person that I am today or the person that I will be in even ten years from now if I hadn't been through that."
The good news is that the rehab process was a little easier the second time around for Cumberpatch. Unlike the first go around where there were days where she was worried that "world was ending" and that she wouldn't even walk right again, this time she knew what to expect.
"It was a world easier just knowing exactly what I was getting into."
Just like in her first season with the Hoyas, she ended up played three games as the Hoyas returned to the NCAA Tournament before losing in the second round to Virginia.
Teammate and classmate Kelyn Freedman who has seen Cumberpatch go through the rehab process both times points to her attitude as the reason for her ability to return to the field.
"Her attitude from the beginning was really promising not just from her but for the people around her," Freedman explained.
"It's devastating when the second one happens; coming back from the second one just shows so much heart and courage. It feels a lot better for everyone else when they are positive about it. When they put on a positive front - whether they feel or not - it really helps the people around them."
After not having a senior season in high school, Cumberpatch was excited for her final collegiate season and to go out on top with her eight classmates. She made sure not to put a lot pressure on herself.
"Senior year when I came back I was like alright, last shot, just kind of go for it. This year has been a great experience and I haven't really noticed [the injuries] at all."
And her approach has worked like a charm. Although not a full-time starter as a senior, Cumberpatch has played in all 18 games, tying a career-high with seven goals as the Hoyas (10-8) finished as BIG EAST runners up to Louisville last weekend before earning an at-large spot in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Cumberpatch and the rest of the Hoyas will continue their season against Johns Hopkins at North Carolina's Fetzer Field on Friday May 9 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. As always Jody Cumberpatch will be living in the moment and helping her teammates on and off the field.
"There's nine of us seniors and we've given everything to this team. From a team standpoint we have one of the best teams that we've had since I've been here and it's just been fun to be on this team and out there playing again."
"For me, I'm always just like I'm happy to be here. I'm just happy to be out there on the field."