Kara Slaughter has gotten used to pain.
Forsyth Central’s senior midfielder has spent the first half of her final season on the pitch enduring the residual discomfort from a car wreck that knocked her out of her junior-year campaign with the Lady Bulldogs.
The collision caused two herniated disks in her back, multiple chipped bones and other “nagging” injuries, she said. Over the summer she received surgery and was out for months. Her fear – that she might not get to play the game she loves ever again.
“I was definitely worried that I wouldn’t recover enough in time to get back out here for the high school season,” Slaughter said. “That’s the most important thing, so I was worried but once I went to the doctor enough and went through surgery it got better.”
The thing is, Slaughter is a rare breed. Unlike many soccer players who devote their time year-round to club teams, on top of playing for their varsity squad in high school, she has put all of her focus into her varsity team.
As well, Slaughter chose to deflect having serious conversations with college coaches over the last few years. While her quality of play has been good enough to earn offers from smaller schools, she has had her sights on attending the University of Georgia. Getting to Athens is her biggest priority, and she won’t go there to play soccer.
“I was talking to some schools but I never got into it,” Slaughter said. “The talks just weren’t super serious.”
Instead, Slaughter has found a second passion. She wants to become a physical therapist, citing her experiences with injuries and rehabilitation in the past as eye-opening, introducing her to the practice.
“I want to go the medical route for sure,” Slaughter said.
Before her car wreck last year, she had already gone through a severe injury and rehab program. As an eighth grader she suffered a severe fracture in her leg—her shin was split completely in half.
“When I broke my leg I was in therapy for a year,” Slaughter said. “I really liked my therapist, and even though I was working hard I was having a lot of fun.”
With a new game plan on the horizon, Slaughter’s final seven games (excluding region tournament and playoff games) are set to be her last, ever. That’s why through each twinge in her back or spiking pain when she falls, she’s getting back up and pushing through.
“I’m so used to the pain at this point that it’s just not a big deal. It’s gotten better as the season has gone along. Every time I fall or get hit really hard it’s there, but it’s easier to deal with each time,” Slaughter said.
Her persistence is paying off. So far this season the Lady Bulldogs are 7-1 and riding a seven-game win streak that started Feb. 16 at West Forsyth—a 3-0 shutout. They followed that win with a result by the same score against North Forsyth, showcasing the fact that Central soccer has turned a corner in time to move into a new region against county foes next season.
The team is also ranked No. 10 in the EuroSportScoreboard.com Georgia rankings—an unprecedented feat for the upstart team.
“It has been so fun,” Slaughter said of the team’s start. “I don’t think we are used to winning as much as we are right now, and since we’re on a winning streak it’s been great for everyone else on the team.”
As fun as it has been, Slaughter is still full of mixed emotions after games.
“After the buzzer, once a game is over I realize it’s another game. I only have so many left. I think about that a lot,” Slaughter said. “This season means a lot to me because it’s been a part of my life since I was a little kid. I’ve dedicated so much time to it. It’s who I am.”