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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Luka Prpa copes with recovery from foot surgery

Photo by John Steppe
Luka Prpa played his first game of the season Sept. 6. He was sidelined last spring after an injury.

For the first time in nearly 10 years, senior co-captain Luka Prpa spent time on the sidelines.

The reason for resting for the first time in 10 years goes back to the spring, when Prpa had the first surgery of his life. He fractured his fifth metatarsal on his right foot, a bone on the outside of his foot.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s tough,” Prpa said. “It’s frustrating, but, honestly … it’s probably for my best.”

The senior midfielder made his first appearance of the season Sept. 6 against University of South Florida, playing 49 minutes but has yet to play since.

Prpa said he doesn’t know how the injury happened.

“It’s just one of those things, I don’t know,” Prpa said. “(It was) hurting one day, (I) got it checked out and that’s what it was.”

On a pain scale from one to 10, Prpa said he would give it a seven at times. The pain was constant, but activity made it worse.

“There was a point where I couldn’t necessarily make it worse, so if I could deal with the pain then it was kind of like, ‘Go ahead,’” Prpa said. “That didn’t really make sense because there is no point in just sticking with the pain.”

Prpa said he was on crutches for about a month after the surgery and then had something similar to a boot for the second month.

“The whole thing was kind of a mental hurdle,” Prpa said. “This was the first time I’ve ever had surgery on anything. So I didn’t really know how I was going to feel after (the surgery), if I was ever going to be the same, just like everything going through my mind.”

Prpa said his recovery process tested his patience. Especially when all his teammates arrived on campus and started preseason training, Prpa said he was tempted to go back and play.

“I’m still a part (of the team) being on the sidelines, (but it) still feels like there’s a big part missing,” Prpa said. “I want to be a part of it.”

Many soccer tasks are now a lot harder than what he’s used to doing.

“Some things I used to do, I’m like, ‘I can’t believe this is hard right now,’” Prpa said.

While he couldn’t get back on the field, Prpa said he would do anything he could to stay fit. As soon as he could walk around in a boot, he got on an arm bike, a stationary bike with handles. He used one leg and both arms to keep his cardio up.

“I was ready to do anything. I just wanted to do something to keep fit, a little bit at least,” Prpa said.

As co-captain, Prpa’s leadership responsibilities continue despite his injuries.

“When a player gets injured or recovering from injury it’s a little difficult (to lead),” head coach Louis Bennett said. “Just the way he goes about rehab, he leads by example.”

Now, Prpa said he thinks he’s past all the mental hurdles, and he feels pretty good.

Once he was able to work on soccer drills, Prpa still didn’t have his usual confidence. He said it just felt a little awkward. Now he said he forgets about the injury when the ball is in play.

“I’m not thinking about it. It’s not holding me back at all,” Prpa said.

Senior forward Josh Coan talked about having Prpa on the field and on the sidelines.

“It’s great to have him on the field, it’s great to play with him. I think we have a great understanding,” Coan said. “When he’s off the field, we lose what he has to offer, but everyone has to stay focused and get the job done one way or another. Hopefully we get him back sooner rather than later, but we have to get the job done without him until we get him back.”

Yet Prpa said the injury was all for the best.

“I’m really eager to play again, really excited,” Prpa said. “It’s good to have that hunger back. Sometimes if you’re playing all the time you get a little burned out (and) worn out a little bit, but now I feel fresh. I’m excited and ready to go.”

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