Player Profile: Skyla Atkins

Praise Chinedu-Eneh, sports reporter

Skyla Atkins is a fourth-year forward for our very own Winona State University women’s soccer team. Like many other players, she enjoys the sport and cherishes the time she gets to play, whether it be in practice or in a game. However, at the beginning of the 2019 soccer season, Atkins’ performance halted due to a broken ankle.
“At first when it happened, I thought it would be a clean break and I’d be fine afterwards,” Atkins said. “I went to our team doctor and he recommended surgery even though I didn’t think I [needed it]. I went back to play and kept reaggravating the injury.”
After the continuous stress on Atkins’ ankle, it forced a more technical look into her injury.
“I saw another surgeon and he put me on a bunch of rehabilitation plans and none of them worked,” Atkins said. “I ended up getting reconstructive surgery.”
Essentially, Atkins underwent a repairment of all the ligaments in her ankle.
Kara Schramel, fourth-year midfielder, described Atkins as “a resilient student athlete.”
“Over the years of playing collegiate soccer, she has faced many setbacks, yet persevered through it all,” Schramel said.
Atkins gave further insight into the recovery process.
“I was in and out of soccer,” Atkins said. “I would go back and a week later I’d be injured again, or a month later I’d be injured again and then COVID happened.”
COVID-19 undeniably affected the nation and the world in many ways. In Atkins’ specific case, however, “it was probably a good thing,” she said.
Since no one was playing last season due to the pandemic, it gave her the time necessary to heal. As a collegiate student athlete, time is a fleeting gift.
Schramel described Atkins’ situation as, “extremely frustrating and difficult [because] both of these factors are out of her control.”
When asked about what the toughest part of the whole process was, Atkins cited the uncertainty of her timeline to get back into the sport.
“[The toughest part is] not knowing when I’m going to come back, not knowing if I’m going to play when I come back [or] not knowing if I’m going to be good when I come back,” Atkins said. “I worked really hard to be able to play again.”
Perhaps others in similar situations as Atkins may allow the intrusive thoughts to overwhelm and interfere with returning at all, but Atkins has pushed through and is now playing alongside her teammates this season.
Winona State played University of Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday, Sept. 26. Atkins had amazing playing opportunity for the first time in three years.
“When [Coach] called my name, I was ecstatic, so excited I had butterflies,” Atkins said. “It felt like I was walking on the moon or like what it would feel like when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.”
“I would imagine that her hard work and determination led to that choice,” Schramel said when asked about what influenced the decision to sub her in to play. “She was ready to play the game physically and mentally and it paid off.”
After this experience, Atkins said, “I plan to work really hard on and off the field so that when it comes to game time, I’m ready.”
Atkins continued by saying, “Something you can always expect from me is that I’m going to work hard and make the best of every opportunity I have.”