Staff Member’s Resilient Recovery

Editor in Chief Returns After Tearing ACL Twice


Photo by Matthew McKinney

In his first game action since his second ACL tear, Connor Bulgrin hauls in a touchdown. “It was really exciting to participate in a game like situation,” Bulgrin said. “I did not expect to produce so much offense.” He finished the scrimmage with two catches for two touchdowns and over 100 yards.

Less than 365 days ago, senior Connor Bulgrin was cooped up in a hospital bed after undergoing surgery on his right knee. It was not his first time enduring such a procedure.

“I actually tore it in 2018 and then 364 days later I tore it in 2019,” Bulgrin said. “Both of those tears were one week before the first game.” 

The ACL is a ligament found in the knee and relied on in everyday life. For an athlete, the knee is arguably the most vital joint, which means that recovery is important. There is obviously a physical toll that tearing an ACL has on an athlete, but for Bulgrin, the mental pain was far more excruciating.

Anticipating his ACL surgery, Connor Bulgrin (21) poses for one more picture before going under. “It’s my second tear because I tore my ACL in the 2018 season,” said Bulgrin. The surgery was successful and Bulgrin made a strong recovery. (Submitted Photo)

“When you tear your ACL it takes roughly 10 months to fully recover,” Bulgrin said. “That includes around 6-8 months of physical therapy and more hard work after that.”

This recovery period includes many steps of progression beginning with surgery, followed by rehab, and eventually ending with using the joint in daily activities to rebuild the strength to where it once was. As can be expected, the recovery process is extremely taxing and the psychological repercussions are devastating. Even though Bulgrin was out of football, the sport does not stop for him. The only way to escape the pain of missing out on playing is to work hard to return.

“You need resiliency, you need to go to physical therapy 2-3 times a week,” Bulgrin said. “To put that much effort in knowing your goal is 10 months away, that’s definitely a mental challenge.” 

Having been through the process previously, Bulgrin knew what it would take to reach a goal that seems far away. Bulgrin’s ACL tear was tragic for him, but there was at least one positive. The mental strain of recovering from such a dramatic injury helped instill values that he now uses to effectively work as editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Voice and a staff reporter for the almost one-year-old online news site, Gretna Media. Returning to the football field may not seem like managing a newspaper, but they are similar in many ways. 

“It takes a lot of work just to get back to playing football again,” Bulgrin said. “But it also takes a lot of work to run a newspaper.”

Dressed in his game day attire, Connor Bulgrin is ready to cheer on the Dragons for the opening game of 2018. “Right now I am just cherishing every moment with my teammates,” Bulgrin said. He would support the team during games from the sidelines. (Submitted Photo)

Both tasks require maturity, discipline, and dedication. Last year he was co-editor in chief of the Voice. Holding that position helped prepare Bulgrin for his new role, but was not as demanding. As editor in chief, Bulgrin has his hands full. 

“I am basically responsible for the entire staff,” Bulgrin said. “I need to make sure everyone’s stories are up to our standards and need to make sure every issue we print looks good, and like we actually care about it.” 

Sometimes that means just taking care of housekeeping tasks or planning out the schedule. In addition to that, he has many duties like assigning stories to his staff. Bulgrin’s new position has more responsibility than last year. One he would not have been ready to assume if it weren’t for the lessons and mental toughness he inherited from the unfortunate tearing of his ACL, twice.