Mckenzie overcomes injuries to lead Mount Paran Christian to playoffs
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
April 09, 2013 12:36 AM | 2816 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
04-02-13  --Mckenzie Goalie 04--  Mount Paran Christian School goalkeeper Courtney Mckenzie has fought her way back from a pre-season snow mobiling accident to help the Eagles make the post-season state tournament. STAFF/KELLY J. HUFF
04-02-13 --Mckenzie Goalie 04-- Mount Paran Christian School goalkeeper Courtney Mckenzie has fought her way back from a pre-season snow mobiling accident to help the Eagles make the post-season state tournament. STAFF/KELLY J. HUFF
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Courtney Mckenzie’s blood tainted the snow-covered hills and mountains of Montana and, for the most part, all she could think about was whether or not she’d be able to play soccer in the spring.

That’s what she asked her doctors in the hospital after they performed surgery to repair the broken thumb on her right hand, tended to her concussion and gave her 45 stitches to her mouth after she knocked loose four of her teeth.

On the final day of a vacation with her family in Montana in December, Mckenzie decided to take one last snowmobile ride before they were all set to board a plane later that day and head back to Georgia.

Unfortunately, none of them made that flight.

“I was riding around on my own on the snowmobile, but I was going too fast,” Mckenzie said. “I hit the brakes too hard and flipped forward and my mouth hit the handlebars. It was pretty scary.”

Mckenzie was rushed to the local hospital emergency room where she and her family spent nearly seven hours. Despite the concussion, Mckenzie was cleared to fly later and the family returned to Georgia the next day, but her ordeal wasn’t over.

Mckenzie, a 5-foot-4 sophomore, is the starting goalkeeper for the Mount Paran Christian girls soccer team. She also had four root canals because of her injuries, and she wasn’t able to practice with the team for a while because of the concussion and the cast on her hand. But all she wanted to do was play soccer.

“The doctor in Montana recommended that I sit out the season or start in March,” she said. “But we start our season in February, and I was determined I wouldn’t miss a game. I just laid low to make sure I would be ready to play.

“I had the cast on for a month. Practice started in the middle of January and I didn’t play until the middle of February which was the first game of the season. I haven’t missed a game all season. I did miss all of the drills and practiced for about a week or two before the first game when I was cleared to play.”

Mckenzie played with a splint on her thumb the first couple of weeks which limited her mobility. She’s also had to wear a mouthpiece for every game which “isn’t so bad,” she said.

“I look at it as I’m able to play so I’m going to go strong. That’s just how I am.”

Mckenzie has only been playing soccer for two years. Her sister, Julie, was the goalkeeper for Mount Paran before graduating in 2012. With coach Justin Nelson looking to fill a need at the position, Mckenzie tried out as a freshman last year and earned a spot at keeper.

“My sister played goalkeeper here for four years and I was in eighth grade during her senior season,” she said. “The position was open, and I was willing to try it.

“I’ve been playing softball for 10 years and I’m a catcher, so I guess you could say it’s in my nature to catch and stop balls, so I tried out for soccer.”

Mckenzie didn’t begin as the Lady Eagles starting goalkeeper last season, but she did end up earning the starting role the second half of the year. After getting kicked in her left shoulder and playing several months of the season in pain, she had surgery at the end of her freshman year where doctors inserted four screws to tie things together.

This season, Mckenzie has helped Mount Paran to a 10-1 overall record, 5-0 mark in Area 7A and its first area championship in program history. She splits time in goal with freshman Katie Sweeney and the duo has combined for six shutouts.

“I like splitting time,” Mckenzie said. “It gives me an opportunity to find ways to improve and fine tune my game, and when I’m not playing well, (Sweeney) has the experience to step in and help us.”
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