Jaylon Grenier hurt his knee playing indoor soccer during a P.E. class, but he didn’t let it stop him from making a return to the soccer pitch.
Grenier has been playing the sport since he was four years old, but said his love for the game had started even before that.
“I started playing in Port Hardy youth soccer, but even before that I was always kicking around a ball,” Grenier said.
He played soccer in P.E. classes while growing up in Port Hardy, but he knew he wanted to play at a more competitive level, so he ended up trying out for the Marine Harvest U-15 Riptide soccer team.
The Riptide is the Upper Vancouver Island ‘North’ regional franchise of the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL).
The franchise is comprised of 8 teams – a boys and a girls team each in the U14, U15, U16 and U17-18 age divisions.
“The skill level was much higher than I was used to,” said Grenier, who added he was so determined to make the cut that he pushed himself harder than ever to earn a spot on the team.
The U-15 Riptide made it to provincials that year, where they faced off against four other teams that were the best of the best from each region.
“We came second out of the four teams,” he said, adding it was the most significant moment of his minor soccer career so far.
Grenier has played with the Riptide every year since, and is currently a member of the U-18 Riptide.
“Practices are every Wednesday and Friday,” he said. “We go down island for the Friday practice, stay the night, and then play a game on Sunday.”
From August to March, this is what Grenier does every weekend, and if the team makes it to provincials, he keeps playing until July.
Oct. 5 was the date Grenier injured his knee.
He was playing indoor soccer at Port Hardy Secondary School during P.E. class against one of his own riptide teammates, when they both went to kick the ball and collided.
“He kicked it first, and it just cranked my leg one way while my knee stayed,” said Grenier.
The MRI showed nothing was wrong and he didn’t need surgery, but his meniscus was definitely bruised.
Grenier ended up going to physiotherapy where he did a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises.
“The most brutal part of the injury was that it wasn’t something you could actually see,” said his mother, Sandy Grenier. “The meniscus doesn’t have blood flow like a groin or hip flexor. Only physio, time, and strengthening could heal it.”
Grenier was officially on the shelf for 18 weeks, but he was determined to make it back for the Riptide’s final league game of the season.
He continued going to physiotherapy throughout his recovery, lifted weights, and started to play light indoor soccer to help get ready for his return to the soccer pitch.
“It was hard watching them play without me,” said Grenier. “We were winning most of our games until I left, and then we had a bit of a slide.”
With one game left in league play, Grenier made his return on Feb. 12 against Bays/Pen/JdF, where he played the majority of the 90 minute game and recorded an assist.
He said afterwards his his knee felt fine.
When asked if he had any advice for young athletes dealing with an injury, Grenier was quick to say you need to be patient.
“Don’t rush it,” he said. “Injuries need time to heal.”
“Make sure you use your local doctors,” said Sandy Grenier. “They were truly incredible.”
Now that his injury has healed up, Grenier is looking forward to playing in the Port Hardy youth soccer league this spring, and then his next season with the Riptide will be the last one of his minor soccer career.
“Probably university,” confirmed Grenier, who said he was looking at attending the University of British Columbia or the University of Victoria in the future, where he will continue to kick the ball around like he has ever since he was a child.
“I just love the game itself.”