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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Kelderman letting successes, not injuries, define her career

Senior+midfielder+Josie+Kelderman+has+dealt+with+two+ACL+tears+in+her+time+at+Marquette.
Photo by Katie Craig
Senior midfielder Josie Kelderman has dealt with two ACL tears in her time at Marquette.

Playing soccer throughout high school and being recruited by a Division 1 college is any football player’s dream. That dream became reality for senior midfielder Josie Kelderman — but two serious injuries took that all away.

Josie started her first two years at Marquette by being selected onto the Big East All-Freshman Team, starting 16 of 18 matches and putting up team-leading numbers in assists.

“My freshman year was pretty good,” Josie said. “Being able to come in as a freshman and immediately get a lot of minutes and being able to start a lot of games was awesome. I had worked so hard to become a Division soccer player my whole life, and it gave me so much excitement with being able to execute right away.”

Thanks to her dad, Kris Kelderman, Josie grew up around the game of soccer.

Kris was a member of the United States 1985 FIFA U-16 World Championship team and is the current University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men’s soccer team head coach. He said he could see Josie’s potential from a young age.

“Technically, she was a skillful player as well and she was great at reading the game,” Kris said. “I was always excited just to see what her future would look like based on her ability. As her family, we were pretty excited about the future.”

All that excitement came to a pause her junior year on August 9, 2021 in an exhibition game against Wisconsin.

As Josie was shuffling backward on a defender, she planted her right foot to pivot and follow the ball. At that moment, her right knee sustained an ACL tear and she fell to the ground. While this isn’t an unusual injury in women’s soccer, the ramifications were something Josie wasn’t ready for.

This injury forced her to remain on the sidelines for the rest of the season.

“I remember being just in disbelief because I was thinking, ‘No way. This isn’t happening to me, right?'” Josie said. “I always thought, ‘Oh, I’m a strong player. If I’m strong in the weight room and on the field, I can’t get hurt.’ And then it happened.”

Athletic trainer Kenny Wilka said that Josie was a gym rat and had been around athletics her entire life, but the persistent care this injury required was new to her.

“She had an idea of what happened, what the process is going to be like. Obviously, what she thought didn’t necessarily turn into what it was,” Wilka said. “For her, it was not realizing every day was a day where you had to show up, even if it was something as simple as moving your knee or tracking your quad. Very simple daily functions that we all take for granted were something she never realized would be a struggle.”

For the remainder of that season, Josie was with Wilka six days a week, working to get better. Even during the summer, she was with him three to four times a week.

Josie returned to the pitch for the following season after 12 months of recovery. She was back at the point she was before.

Then, like a bad dream, it happened again. She tore her ACL, but this time with her left leg.

“It was a lot harder after the second injury. I kid with her now and say that I think I took it harder than she did,” Kris said. “Knowing how hard she worked after the first injuries to get back and then all of a sudden, to be in pretty good form and then seeing her go down a second time was, as a parent, much more difficult than I anticipated.”

While the second time was exhausting emotionally, Kelderman said it was easier physically.

“The second time, I knew what I had to do, so it wasn’t as difficult. I knew my knee was supposed to feel like that at this certain part, so it didn’t stress me out as much,” Josie said.

Kris talked with a number of coaches and was told that coming back after a double ACL tear was possible.

“I was able to share that with her, which I think helped convince her that she can do it again,” Kris said. “I do think she went through a stage where she was asking herself, ‘Hey, should I go through this all over again?'”

Josie said yes to that question and has played in six games so far this season.

“It’s another testament to her determination and her drive to succeed at whatever she does,” Kris said. “That’s why she’s having the success that she has.”

Though, Kelderman said she doesn’t want to play just to play — she wants to make an impact on the field.

“I’m not someone who likes to give up and I feel for me in my head, that’s what these injuries are about,” Josie said. “I always thought that if I ended here, I was giving up on myself and I didn’t want to do that.”

Like a muscle after an injury, Wilka said that Josie has become tougher through this.

“What she’s gone through is a huge, life-changing experience. I don’t know if she notices yet, but I know she will,” Wilka said. “Knowing her from her freshman year to who she is now, the growth and the struggle that she’s gone through has made her a much stronger person.”

This story was written by Benjamin Hanson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @benhansonMU.

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About the Contributors
Benjamin Hanson, Sports Reporter
Ben Hanson is a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minnesota studying journalism, digital media and advertising. He is a sports reporter and the assistant social media producer for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. When he's not in the newsroom, he likes creative writing, being with friends and going to sporting events. He is excited to be able to spread the word of the Marquette Wire because it has done so much for him while also refining his sports writing.
Katie Craig, Staff Photographer
Katie is a Staff Photographer at the Wire. She is a first-year from Lakeville, MN studying digital media and minoring in advertising. In her free time, Katie enjoys photography and hanging out with her friends. This year Katie is looking forward to getting to know more people and improving her photography skills.

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