After tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament in April of 2017, midfielder Joanna Lohman is back and ready for the 2018 season to get underway. From Africa to South Asia to Paris, the Silver Spring native has had a busy offseason. Now, it’s all about getting her body and her mind back to 100 percent playing form.
“I’m doing well,” Lohman said. “I’ve definitely been very busy. I’ve done a lot of traveling as a Sports Diplomat overseas. I went to Africa and also South Asia. Then I spent some time in Paris more as an advocate for the Gay Games in Washington, D.C. and the bid for 2022. And clearly, every day rehabbing and training to get ready for the season. It’s been a very active offseason for me.”
One of Lohman’s biggest adventures of the offseason was a trip to Cote D’Ivoire as a Sports Diplomat. She worked as part of a program called ‘The Champions of National Unity.’
“It was a program for reconciliation because they’ve had a lot of violence up until 2011 in Cote D’Ivoire. They really wanted to run a program using soccer as a vehicle to really push for tolerance and communication and community and unity in the country,” Lohman said. “So I helped to run soccer festivals around the country.”
While Lohman was there, she participated in soccer matches because she had reached a point in her rehab that she could begin playing again.
“I went to three different cities within Cote D’Ivoire and we had entire communities come out to these programs and we would play a celebrity match with a group of teenagers that were selected as the team called the nationals of unity,” Lohman said. “It really highlighted a lot of these teenagers, ages 14-18, and how they were demonstrating all of the values that this program was trying to promote and how they were really leaders in their communities.”
When she was not traveling around the world, Lohman was back home in Maryland rehabbing. At this point in her rehab, it’s about building strength and getting back to where she was prior to her injury.
Anyone who has gone through this injury knows that the rehab process is a rollercoaster. You have good weeks and bad weeks, but you just have to stay consistent and realize that all the work you are putting in, you will get to a place where you feel better,” Lohman said. “I’m definitely not 100 percent physically or mentally but that’s part of the process and I know that preseason will be an opportunity for me to kind of get back into it, see how I feel.”
Injuries often happen at awful times, whether for the athlete or the team. Lohman was coming off a career year that saw her score four goals and play in 20 games. In the first game of the 2017 season, Lohman tore her ACL. But Lohman looks at it as a learning experience.
“I think I proved to myself that even through tragedy to a certain extent, and devastation, I could still find beauty in the simple things,” Lohman said. “I had an identity outside of soccer. That’s so important for me because I can’t play soccer forever. As much as I would like to, it showed how many dimensions I have as a human being. So it was a very empowering experience.”
This offseason, the Spirit picked up many young, talented players. Because of this, playing time could be up for grabs in preseason and early on in the regular season. For Lohman, her veteran presence will help her have an impact on this year’s team.
“For me, it’s not about playing time anymore, it’s not about goals scored or assists,” Lohman said. “That will come if I do all the little things that are important in my career and I want to show up every day and contribute to the team and be a leader and a veteran and provide things that I think only someone who’s had a professional career for 14 seasons can do. That’s really my goal is to truly throw myself into this season and make my team better.”
The Spirit opened up preseason on February 19. They will play their first preseason game on March 10 vs. the University of North Carolina. Preseason will wrap up with a match against the North Carolina Courage on March 17. That game will take place in Richmond, VA.
The regular season will begin on March 24 when Washington heads out to Seattle to face the Reign. Kick-off for that match is 10 p.m. ET.