After finishing her first season of college soccer at Lewis University, Taylor Markanich ’17 faced a tougher obstacle than she ever expected.
Markanich went to the University of Chicago to undergo what she was told was routine foot surgery but it became anything but that. The doctors needed to break her foot and reconstruct it with hardware and screws.
After the operation, Markanich knew she was going to have a long road to recovery. She noticed something was not right, so she sought the input of doctors at Northwestern University. She found out that during her first procedure, the doctor had cut nerves and cartilage that resulted in severe nerve damage.
The doctors told her they could try to correct the situation, but her chances of playing college soccer were slim. “The doctor said, ‘We’re just trying to get you to walk. Soccer, athletics, is completely out of the picture, pretty much the rest of your life,’” said Markanich.
She endured five corrective surgeries with doctors from Northwestern and was initially wheelchair bound. She eventually returned home to Bourbonnais, IL, and attended physical therapy to learn how to walk again. It was “frustrating but rewarding,” she says.
Recalling her first time running, she says, “It hurt, it hurt like hell. It felt so awkward. It just seemed like my whole body was out of whack.” But she exceeded what the doctors had anticipated and was on the road to playing sports again. Knowing she was not going to be the same player that she once was, Markanich sought out competitive Division III schools. She contacted North Central’s former women’s soccer coach Bonnie Young and took a liking to her.
Markanich came to North Central in fall 2015 and developed into a key player for the offense. She scored her first goal against Edgewood College in the season opener. Despite all the challenges, Markanich would not trade any part of the experience. “As much as I wish the surgery and all that didn’t happen, they’re the reason I ended up here. North Central is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me."