One of the rising stars of international and professional lacrosse, Austin Staats, was selected as The World Games Athlete of the Month for January 2019 as well as the only rookie in the league to be praised with player of the week honours for week 2 of the NLL.
But with playoffs approaching, Staats has been sidelined for the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in his right knee.
Known for complete disregard for himself and showing no fear, Staats is often seen running through defenders with the aggression of a defensemen himself and weaving to the net while sometimes colliding into it after he accurately shoots the ball beyond the goal line. This exciting but reckless way of playing has likely contributed not only to his successes and notoriety, but to the injury.
The ACL is one of the major ligaments in the knee and ACL injuries commonly occur during sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing — which are staple movements used when Staats plays. Many people hear or feel a “pop” in the knee when an ACL injury occurs and the knee may swell, feel unstable and become too painful to bear weight.
Rehabilitation can take months and surgery may also be needed depending on the severity of the injury. But in a statement issued by the Seals general manager and head coach Patrick Merrill, Staats being sidelined is “heartbreaking” but is only “just the beginning” of what will come once he has healed.
“I feel for the kid,” said Merrill. “He’s the ultimate competitor and has been outstanding for us all year. To see him go down, especially at this time of year, is heartbreaking. He’s a had a great rookie season in the NLL but this is just the beginning for Austin Staats. He’s in good hands with our doctors here in San Diego and I’m sure he will come back stronger for many more years to come. He’ll be missed on the floor but will continue be a key part of our family off the floor. The rest of the team will certainly be motivated to step up in his absence.”
With players such as Dan Dawson, who holds 78 points for the Seals alone, the team is hoped to make up for the loss of one of their top offensive pieces.
The Seals will play their final two regular-season games at home on Friday and April 27. At 9-7, the team has qualified for the postseason but stands second in the Western Division, with one game behind Saskatchewan (10-6) and a half-game ahead of Calgary (9-8).