Athlete of the Week: Dover’s Dill still can’t finish long journey back

Dover High senior defender Amanda Dill (11) missed the second half of last season with a serious knee injury. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school sports world on hold, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Dover High’s Amanda Dill won our readers’ poll for girls’ lacrosse.)

DOVER — The pain of her knee injury was bad enough.

But when Amanda Dill heard it would take eight months to recover, that’s when the severity of her situation really hit home.
“I was just heartbroken,” she said. “I was devastated.”

Not being able to finish out her Dover High lacrosse season last spring was pretty difficult for the junior.

Being so dependent on other people, though, was really tough for Dill, who is involved in a number of different Dover organizations.
“Being held back from doing all that, not being to even get in my car and just drive myself. …” she said. “I had to have other people wait on me.

“It was awful. There was one point when I couldn’t even bear weight,” Dill said about her knee. “The day that they let me off the crutches was probably the best day ever. I just felt so independent. I was just like, ‘Finally, I can walk.’”

The great news for Dill is that she survived her eight-month physical and mental ordeal to be cleared to play on March 2, the day preseason practice began.

The bad news, of course, is that the senior defender’s dream of returning to the field is on hold right now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dill knows there are bigger problems in the world right now — she’s planning to be a nurse after college. But, just from a sports standpdoint, the shutdown is pretty crushing after she worked so hard to get back in time for her senior season.

There were times, Amanda Dill admits, that she didn’t want to let her teammates see her frustration. Submitted photo

The fact that she got to play in only seven games last spring before getting hurt just makes the situation doubly frustrating for Dill.

She was simply running upfield after making a steal in a game against Smyrna. Dill cut inside a player, felt something pop in her left knee and eventually tumbled to the ground.

She had surgery to repair torn ACL and MCL ligaments in her knee in late May.

“I got really emotional over it,” Dill said about the season being suspended. “I really do love my school. I’m very involved in my school community. … Hearing that we weren’t going to go back for a while was definitely another mental roadblock for me — just because I didn’t get to experience last season the way I wanted to.

“I can’t even put it into words how much it would mean to me,” Dill said about playing this season. “I love lacrosse, I love my school. I love playing in games. Everyone is like, ‘You have college to play in after this.’ But it’s not the same. High school is definitely an experience that you only go through once.”

A 4.0 GPA student, Dill is planning to continue her playing career at Widener in the fall.

Senators’ coach Molly Phillips said Dill has been a model team captain, even when she was injured. Phillips said Dill was always there — at practices, team workouts and winter-league games.

“She came to everything,” said Phillips. “She’s just a really strong leader. She kind of coordinated it (team workouts) and made sure that kids were coming out, gave kids rides to get there.

Amanda Dill has been a two-year captain for the Senators and was set to play this year before schools were closed. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“Being on the sidelines kind of gave her a different perspective to see the game, too. I think she learned a lot.

“She’s really good about seeing where the play was going to be because she had played basketball,” Phillips added. “A couple of our defenders were basketball players so they work together really well to see the flow of plays and when picks are coming.”

The 5-foot-7 Dill actually did get to practice for the two weeks of preseason before schools were closed.

After the “long journey” she had been on, Dill said hearing her doctor clear her to play again was a pretty special moment.

“My mom and dad (Renee and Mike) just looked at me and they gave me the thumbs up,” she said. “We were all just so happy. That was definitely such an exciting morning.”

There were times, Dill admits, that she didn’t want to let her teammates see her frustration.

Rehab wasn’t easy. She had to work on her knee for a few weeks even before she underwent surgery.

Dill then went to the physical therapist three or four times a week along with also doing weight training to strengthen her knee.
When she stopped using crutches, Dill said she basically had to learn how to walk again.

But the world of doctors, physical therapists and nurses is also something Dill is very interested in. She’s already taken a certified nursing assistant program at Dover.

And she said the current pandemic situation, where medical personnel find themselves in extraordinarily difficult situations, doesn’t faze her.

“I like the idea of being able to comfort people and be the reason they start to feel better,” said Dill. “I know personally, when I was recovering from surgery, the nurses were definitely very comforting and just kind and compassionate people.”