DIXMONT, Maine — When you are 16 years old and a year away from attending Duke University on an athletic scholarship, learning that you’ll have to undergo two surgeries on your left knee that will keep you sidelined for up to 15 months can be absolutely devastating.
But former Region 1 U.S. Under-15 soccer goalie Abby Pyne of Dixmont is far from devastated.
In fact, the former John Bapst of Bangor soccer and basketball star is looking at her recent news as a positive.
“This will be good for me. It will build my mental toughness,” said Pyne, an hour after having her first surgery on Friday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “I’m going to keep my head up. I’m going to come back stronger than ever. I’m very excited to see how it goes.
“I’m thankful. It could have been a lot worse,” added Pyne. “I’m going to make the best of the situation.”
She will have her second surgery in Boston on Sept. 23, the day before her 17th birthday.
She said the Duke coaching staff has been very supportive, and they’ve told her they intend to honor her scholarship.
She said she will get a 50 percent scholarship her first year and a full scholarship for the rest of her time.
Pyne, who will be a senior this year at The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn., said she will be a medical redshirt at Duke in 2014-2015 but will still have four years of eligibility when she begins playing in the 2015-2016 season.
The 6-foot-1 Pyne said she had surgery on her left knee when she was 14, and it “never healed” to the point where she was 100 percent.
It acted up recently when she was undergoing three-a-day training sessions and was revealed through an MRI that “the cartilage under the patella [kneecap] was worn to the bone.”
“I was surprised,” said Pyne. “It is a lot more extreme than I expected but I have an incredible doctor [in Dr. Andreas Gomoll] and an incredible support system with my family, coaches and friends.”
She will do some minor rehabilitation leading up to the second surgery and, following that procedure, she will be in a leg brace with crutches and begin the long rehabilitation process at her prep school.
“I still plan on being a leader on my team. I’m going to stay involved. But I just won’t be able to participate [on the field],” said Pyne.
She said she intends to become a student of the game and pick up valuable tidbits while watching her teams play at Loomis Chaffee and Duke.
“It will be a very good learning experience for me,” said Pyne, who hopes to begin training with the Blue Devils in the spring of 2015.