Local Sidekicks Newcomer Looks To Put Injuries Behind Him

Since the team’s return in 2012, the Dallas Sidekicks have found a formula for success by featuring a roster of time-tested, talented veterans mixed with skilled, young newcomers. An influx of home-grown talent has bolstered the Sidekicks’ roster for the past two years, and one player hoping to throw his name into the mix is 25-year-old Cameron Brown from Garland. Although his professional career is just beginning, Brown has already experienced hardships and struggles that have taught him how important dedication and determination are in order to succeed.

After graduating from Naaman Forrest High School in Garland in 2007, Brown went on to play Division-I soccer at the University of North Carolina. The midfielder was an integral part of the team’s attack and a regular starter, named to the All-ACC Second Team in 2009. It was an injury to his right knee – a torn ACL – in May 2010 that began a two-year struggle that became an ultimate test of perseverance.

Surgery in June to fix the torn ACL followed by several months of rehab was the plan, but continuing complications in Brown’s knee resulted in four more surgeries. A scope to clear out scar tissue came in February 2011, followed by two separate procedures to remove a recurring Baker’s Cyst (a buildup of joint fluid behind the knee).

Forced to redshirt the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Brown made the decision to withdraw from UNC in order to remain eligible. After moving back home to Dallas, he noticed that the swelling in his knee was not improving. Another trip to the doctor revealed three separate infections developing inside of the knee, which called for yet another surgery.

It was this final surgery and its complications that proved to be the most difficult. For nine weeks, Brown sported an IV line inserted into his right arm leading to his heart. Twice a day he sat for an hour and a half as antibiotics were fed through the IV directly into his bloodstream. A blood clot developed when doctors first inserted the IV, which resulted in 15 days of blood thinner injections into his stomach. A week later, an allergic reaction from one of his many medications caused a four-day stint in the emergency room, Brown suffering from fever and seizures.

After a grueling eight weeks of treatment, Brown was infection-free. Four months of extensive rehab later, he returned to North Carolina and was able to compete in the 2012 season after missing a total of 23 months.

Brown says that a large part of his return should be credited to his family, who stood by his side through every surgery and treatment.

“My Dad is the one who did the injections into my stomach for 15 days straight because I just couldn’t do it on my own,” he says. “My Mom was amazing through everything and my then-girlfriend, now-wife Tori was there for every treatment, morning or night. My family was there for me every step of the way and I know that’s how I got through it all.”

Brown returned to Dallas after graduation, healthy and determined to continue his soccer career. He was drafted by FC Dallas in early 2013, but it was his childhood connection to the Dallas Sidekicks that caused him to end up making the switch to indoor. A veteran of the Dallas-based Solar Soccer Club, Brown was coached as a child by then-Sidekicks midfielder Kevin Smith, as well as Nick Stavrou, who just announced his retirement from the team this summer.

“I’ve known Nick since I was eight years old,” Brown says. “I grew up going to Sidekicks games and hearing him and Kevin talk about what it was like to play professionally. Getting to play with Nick last year taught me a lot about professionalism and putting in the effort.”

Brown trained with the Sidekicks throughout the 2013-14 season and appeared in the team’s U.S. Open Cup match, where he scored a goal in the second quarter.

Training camp for the 2014-15 Dallas Sidekicks season is quickly approaching, and Brown is hoping to earn a permanent spot in the team’s lineup. The Sidekicks have been chosen to host the inaugural match of the new Major Arena Soccer League at the Allen Event Center on Oct. 25, when they will face the 2013 MISL Champion Missouri Comets.

“I’m really hoping that this upcoming season will be my real professional debut,” Brown says. “I know that all of the injuries, all the recoveries, all of the negativity will go away once the whistle blows in that first game I’m able to play.”

In a sport where emotions run high and injuries are common, the Sidekicks’ 20-game season can be grueling. For Brown, his experience with injury and perseverance has not hampered his passion for soccer or his hunger to experience the game on a professional level.

“There’s always the risk that I could get re-injured,” Brown says. “It might always be in the back of my mind, but every day when I step out onto the field, I’m reminded that it’s worth it because when it all comes down to it, I just love playing the game. You just have to keep looking forward, and I’m excited for the future.”

Individual game and season tickets are currently on sale for the Dallas Sidekicks’ 2014-15 season. For more information about the Dallas Sidekicks, visit www.dallassidekicks.net or call 469-200-GOAL. Follow the team on Twitter and Instagram on Facebook at facebook.com/GoSidekicks

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