Mother provides lesson in mental toughness
TOUCH FOOTBALL: As a paramedic student, Kelly Brown regularly learns about resilience and coping with adversity.
However, the Springfield Lakes touch footballer has learned her own lesson in mental toughness through her determination to come back from a serious knee injury.
Preparing to play for USQ's mixed touch football team at next week's UniSport Nationals Div 2 competition on the Gold Coast, Brown reflected on her personal battle and how USQ inspired her return.
The former Royal Australian Navy Able Seaman Boatswain's Mate thought she would never play again after falling heavily on her knee during a fire exercise on board the HMAS Manoora in 1999.
"I tore all the main ligaments and damaged the patella tendon in my right knee," said Brown, who served four-and-a-half years in the Navy and was deployed to East Timor and Solomon Islands.
"I was training to be a personal training instructor in the Navy at the time so sport was a big part of my life.
"It (injury) really destroyed me and it took me a long time for me to get over it."
Brown, 40, played touch football at school level, competing at regional and state championships, and represented the Navy touch football team.
But her days of touch football seemed over when she was told she might not be able to walk properly again after undergoing surgery to repair the damaged knee.
Despite spending 16 years out of the game, Brown refused to give up on her beloved touch football, making her long-awaited return to the field in 2016 with the USQ Springfield social touch football team.
The mother-of-two has been making up for lost time since, representing USQ at the Northern Uni Games in 2016 before being chosen to play at the National Touch League for the South Queensland Sharks (2017) and South West Queensland Swans (2018).
"I missed the game so much and wanted to get back playing sport again," she said.
"I worked extremely hard on my fitness and in rehab to make sure my knee was 100 per cent before getting back on the field again.
"The fact I am running on a football field again is quite remarkable, so any chance I get to play is a blessing."
For Brown, a third year paramedic student at USQ Ipswich, the UniSport Nationals Div 2 competition will be the second time she has competed in USQ colours at the national level.
Although twice the age of most of her teammates, she hopes to show other mature-age students that the carnival was not just for "young" people.
"Age shouldn't be a factor because if you want something in life, and it makes you happy, then you must go for it," she said.
"Every time I go on the field I want to do the best I can, not only because I don't want to let my teammates down, but because I also want to make myself, my family and my uni proud."
The UniSport Nationals Div 2 carnival, from July 1-5, provides students an opportunity to compete against some of the best athletes and connect with like-minded students.