Two ACL tears could not keep Wong off the pitch

Manitoba Bisons' midfielder Amanda Wong (8) scores on a penalty kick during the first half against the Lethbridge Pronghorns, Saturday, September 22, 2018. (Trevor Hagan / Manitoba Bisons)

Amanda Wong loves the game of soccer and has been playing since she was four years old. Her love for the game runs deep and even two ACL tears on the same leg could not stop her from playing.

Wong tore her ACL in the first game of her second season at the University of Manitoba, but this did not stop her from fighting to return to the pitch.

“I knew how much work I was going to have to put in,” said Wong of her recovery. “I love soccer so much that I wanted to do it and I wanted to go through the work.”

“There were people telling me ‘This is your second time, maybe you should stop soccer’ — but I was not prepared to do that,” she said.

The 22-year-old suffered the same injury when she was 13. The pain was familiar when she fell injured in her Bisons uniform.

“As soon as it happened I kind of knew what it was,” said Wong. “Obviously I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the moment because I was devastated.”

Wong did not go through the long ACL recovery alone. Teammate Bruna Mavignier suffered the same injury that season.

“We kind of rehabbed a bunch together and made a really strong connection from that,” said Wong.

Wong’s Bisons career ended in 2018, and she was one of the herd’s top players.

She scored two goals and tallied three assists throughout 15 games in her final season.

For this, Wong was named a Canada West second team all-star for 2018 — the second time of her career. The first came in 2014.

“It was cool being on it twice for sure,” said Wong.

“That’s some recognition for my hard work and stuff, and obviously it’s very much appreciated.”

Wong is just the second player in Bisons soccer history to be named a Canada West all-star in multiple seasons.

The other is Canadian National Team standout Desiree Scott, who was given the honour four times in her Bisons career.

“She really proves that playing at the U of M doesn’t mean you can’t make it to the national team,” Wong said.

“So I think that’s an inspiration, not just for us who play at the U of M, but also for so many little girls wanting to get to that level one day.”

Wong’s own desire to represent Canada weighed heavily on her decision between playing in the NCAA or at the U of M.

“I was kind of told if I was looking at national teams then I should go to the States,” said Wong.

“But in the end, I decided that staying here was best for me and I wanted to focus on my schooling and education because I figured that was where my future was going to be, rather than soccer.”

Her final decision came down to the University of North Dakota and the University of Manitoba.

“I think the education I would get here [at U of M] would be a little bit better and staying at home with family and stuff is always nice,” said Wong.

Wong is graduating with a major in genetics this spring and said she is hoping to pursue a career in medicine.

She is focused on her schooling but will always play soccer for fun.

“I’ll still play women’s league or coed league,” said Wong. “I’m not looking really to try pro or anything, I kind of want to move on with my career, not in soccer.”

Looking back at her four years of playing at the U of M, Wong said she has two moments that will stick with her forever.

She said she will always remember the first game of Nationals hosted at the U of M indoor soccer complex in 2017.

“Being captain, I got to hold the Manitoba sign as we walked out,” said Wong.

“The indoor complex at the U of M was just packed with people and we were the last team to walk out, and everyone was cheering for us. It was amazing to have all those people there cheering for us and supporting us.”

Wong said the 1-0 playoff win over Calgary in 2016 is one game that will stay with her.

Calgary was the No. 1 seed and Manitoba just got into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed that season.

“We just played a really smart game, we wasted our time when we needed to, we slowed the game down when we needed to,” said Wong.

“Calgary was coming at us guns-a-blazing […] We were just giving it our all.”