Bree McMahon, the Orlando soccer star who lost her leg in a freak accident in 2009, is back on the field and playing in a real game once again, proving she can turn a near tragedy into triumph.
In the photos of McMahon’s first game, you see the drive, the skill, the intensity. She certainly doesn’t look like she’s been on the sidelines for more than two years.
But McMahon says you can’t let the pictures fool you.
“I was so nervous (that) I was going to get scored on," she said. "I was, like, I hope they don’t kick it to the corner because I know what I can and can’t do.”
After months of rehab, McMahon began her quest to play again last fall. Local 6 was there when she started practicing with her Brevard, N.C., college team learning how to use her specially designed running leg.
Seven months later, April 21 would be her moment of truth.
“Am I dreaming?,” said McMahon of her emotions before walking onto the field, “I was just so excited and it was a relief to finally get back to where I was.”
“I knew she’d be able to do it, but watching her do it was… oh boy,” said her father, David McMahon, who was on the sidelines the day his daughter’s dream came true.
Like he did before the accident, McMahon gave his traditional pregame pep talk.
“He said kick some butt, he’s like you got this,” described Bree McMahon.
Bree McMahon played 25 minutes in goal, gave up nothing and even made a save.
“I was really happy. I didn’t cry, though. I didn’t cry. I was really excited. I ran off the field. My coach gave me a big hug, my team gave me a big hug, my dad, my boyfriend. I was really happy,” said McMahon.
She’s home in Central Florida for the summer, but she’s not exactly taking it easy.
She’s either in the yard kicking the soccer ball, working out or preparing for her next mission, training with the para-Olympic sitting volleyball team.
“When I was little, I always wanted -- I want to be in the Olympics someday, and it never seemed like a real possibility,” said Bree McMahon.
Now it is.
She plans to make the team that heads to the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. Right now, she’s training on a grant thanks to the Challenged Athletes Fund.
Despite all of the challenges she’s faced -- McMahon never stops setting goals for herself, which is a testament to the young woman she has become.
“I’m definitely happy where I am now. It was an awful accident, but I feel like what happened to me made me the person I am today, and I’m a lot better person. “I’ve learned to accept things and just move on. Everything seems to be going my way right now, going really well,” said McMahon.
Local 6 asked McMahon if, while she was back in the game, it felt like old times, like she played before her accident. She said yes, until she had to make a quick move and realized her running leg didn’t bend they way she needed it to.
McMahon will be going back to Brevard College in North Carolina in the fall where she’ll start her junior year. She’s hoping for a permanent spot on the soccer roster and lots of playing time.
Watch a slide show of McMahon’s first game.