Seven surgeries couldn’t stop this soccer player

Savannah Allen (15) of Paradise Valley.

Savannah Allen of Paradise Valley  first stepped onto the soccer field when she was 3 years old. She has been a dedicated soccer player for the last 10 years. Now a freshman at Pinnacle High School, she’s a member of the girls varsity soccer team.

Her dedication to soccer has been challenged by an injury from a car accident that happened when she was 4 years old. She was thrown to the floorboard of the vehicle, landing on her neck and causing nerves in her neck to tear away from her spine. This left her arm paralyzed, an injury that affected her daily. Despite multiple surgeries since the car accident, she continued to play soccer, learning to protect her arm while playing.


In June 2009, Allen underwent a surgical procedure to lengthen her upper arm through a fixator — a device that expands space between a deliberate break in her bones. The four-month process required Allen to turn a knob to expand the bone space each day, eventually resulting in two inches of new bone growth. During this treatment, Allen continued running, training and drills to maintain her stamina.

When the fixator was removed, Savannah could not play for another six weeks. On her first day back to practice, she received a standing ovation from her team and parents. Almost back to 100 percent, Savannah remains an integral part of her team, on and off the field. She faces two more surgical procedures as she continues with high school.

“I always felt part of the team,” she says. “I didn’t miss any practices or games, but it’s really hard not being part of the game. I was worried about not being at the same level as everyone else.”

A 3.7 GPA student, Savannah was on the Olympic Development Team in 2008 and traveled to Spain to participate in the Donasti Cup.

Savannah recently was selected as the PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Week. She is now eligible for the PCH Sports Medicine Comeback Student Athlete of the Year and Fan Fave Comeback Student Athlete of the Year awards, which will be handed out at a banquet in May. The awards honor outstanding young athletes who have returned to athletic competition after receiving treatment for an injury, illness, or physical limitation. This is the second year of the program, launched by Phoenix Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Program.


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