Angelica Esperanza Ramos, 25, is not living the life she dreamed of as a student-athlete at Copperas Cove High School. A fierce soccer player, she was, by her own admission, only focused on three things: school, church, and football.
Her desire to become a D-1 footballer was so great that Ramos even abandoned the school’s traditional rites of passage, including prom and homecoming. But she does not regret her decision.
“I gave this dream everything I had, and then some more,” she said, bringing her hand to her face, showing in this gesture the remains of a hot pink manicure.
“There is no denying that the loss of that dream was painful physically and mentally,” she continued. “But it got me to where I am now and I’m grateful for that.”
In high school, Ramos was an athlete. A very serious jock. And she had awards to prove it—enough to fill her own bookcase and a couple of other people. In just four short years, she won All-Tournament honors as a freshman, was twice Junior Player of the Week, and was the Killeen Football Tournament MVP to name but a few.
She even began to get the attention of D-1 sports recruiters, an important step forward that she hoped would lead to an offer to play on a college or university team. And then, perhaps, a career as a football player.
As prepared as she was for her future as an athlete, Ramos couldn’t imagine what would happen when an otherwise healthy, disciplined young woman was more familiar with anatomical reference books, medical diagnoses and surgical options than she was with the latest football games. events. terms.
It was September of her sophomore year in the last days of summer when she took to the field next to the Copperas Cove Police Department to join an occasional game. She was about to take a step forward, she said, when she suddenly heard a distinct, dull crack of bones. It was her right knee.
Taken to the emergency room, she soon learned that she had inexplicably torn not only her anterior cruciate ligament, but also her LCL and MCL.
Ramos will suffer a devastating injury: her ACL, LCL, and MCL will inexplicably tear and require extensive surgery.
In the months that followed, she faced two out of three surgeries, three years of rehab, and obstacles that would have completely destroyed anyone with even the slightest bit less resolve.
“It’s almost impossible to put into words my sadness,” she said, her deep brown eyes shining with tears.
“Football has been my whole life for many years. My only ambition And in the blink of an eye, just like that. It was ending. Even recruiters who once saw me on their radar officially called me “injury prone.”
As grim as the situation was, Ramos was not going to give in. She could do it, she thought. She will find a place, even if that place is not the D-1 university program she dreams of. After graduating from high school, she will go to West Texas College and earn a place like a walk.
From there, she will earn a spot on the football team and prove her worth.
If she could do it, she thought, everything would be possible. Other girls had gone from two-year college to university earlier. If she had to take a step back to get up, she would. Play and school were still the most important things.
“I was where I wanted to be,” she said, first lowering her eyes and then hesitantly looking up to make eye contact. “I had literally just stepped onto the football field where I was on the touchline doing warm-ups when my knee collapsed under me for the last time.”
Her parents drove eight hours from Killeen to Snyder to take their daughter home and seek immediate medical attention. The days, weeks and months that followed passed in an almost unconscious haze. Her motivation was destroyed.
She felt like she was unwittingly giving up the discipline she knew she would need to repair her trauma and return to some semblance of normality.
“I was a different person when I was not striving for a goal,” she admitted. “It was like pulling on a rope every day, just trying to lasso that dream and get a little closer to me. But after the third injury, I just completely let go of everything, and I didn’t care if my own life disappeared along with it. ”
And, as sometimes happens, physical trauma and emotional upheaval turned into another life lesson.
Engaged in an abusive relationship, she dated her boyfriend, who became abusive. She managed to get him out of the car and drive away, but she was pulled over and charged with drunk driving.
“It sounds fake, like I was at the very bottom of all the lowest points,” she admitted. “I was fined and spent five days in jail. When I got out, I knew it was time to reconcile the person I allowed myself to become with the person I wanted to become.”
Calling on the discipline she once mastered, Ramos devised a different game plan. This time it had nothing to do with football.
“In 2019, I completed my associate’s degree from Central Texas College with a near-perfect GPA,” she said. “A week after I got out of jail, I was standing at the admissions office at A&M-Central Texas.”
As a junior undergraduate student, she announced her major in psychology, determined to use whatever happened to her one day as a licensed professional consultant. She began to gain experience that would complement her next goals: a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then a graduate program in the Psychological Counseling Program of the College of Education.
She took a job as a student with the university’s Office of Career and Professional Development, volunteered to be a student advocate for the university’s Title IX program, ran for and won the position of psychology club president and student government senator. .
This spring, she was honored with the Pete Taylor Leadership Award at the 10th Annual Research Banquet. She submitted a research project that was part of the Pathways program but never expected to be nominated, let alone win an award.
“That was the last award announced for the evening and all I could do was sit and fidget,” she laughed. “I have won awards before, but these were sports awards. This award was presented to me not only for academic research, but also because I have made a positive impact on my peers and on a topic that I love.”
Perhaps this is true. If adversity is an inevitable part of life, then it is what happens to them in those dark moments of recognition and recovery that makes finding a purpose a miracle.
Evidence of this belief is the literally constant part of Ramos. She proudly wears two tattoos on her forearm. One, a simple stem of flowers, declares, “Blossom with grace.” The other, the image of the world, is adorned with a banner with a biblical reference.
This, she says, is a verse from the Book of Isaiah, which, in response to the Creator’s question about whom he should send to serve the world, answers: “Send Me.”
Her many traumas, her struggle to rehabilitate and fulfill her dreams, the disappointment of her loss, and everything else that followed is now not just the past, but a kind of prologue to her future.
“Grace is what you earn when you face adversity and choose to become who you know you are, no matter what you have been through.”