Alisha Jordan, the Irish footballer who was brutally attacked last year in Woodlawn, recently captained the Cavan New York Ladies GAA team to the championship win in Gaelic Park over the side from Kerry/Donegal.
Jordan, a native of Skryne, Co. Meath, was attacked by an assailant last July with a brick while walking home with a friend from a night out. The attack crushed part of her skull, broke her teeth and nose and resulted in several facial stitches.
In speaking about her trials and ultimate triumph in the wake of this past year's events, Jordan has an upbeat and optimistic outlook.
"After the win I felt amazing. It was something I worked incredibly hard at all year simply because I wanted to win so badly,” Jordan, 21, told the Irish Voice.
“I needed to end this year on a high to put it behind me and now thankfully I'll remember this year for winning the championship and not for what happened last July."
Though she now has the pleasant memory of the championship victory to remember this year by, Jordan will never forget the attack that changed her life so traumatically.
“I remember everything about the attack. I can even remember the moment he hit me. I didn’t fall unconscious throughout the whole thing,” she recalls.
The attack came when Jordan was walking home with her friend Ashley from a night out. “I remember Ashley jumping on the guy and tussling with him. I tried to get up off the ground and help her, but after a few steps I fell and hit my head again. I don’t remember much after that,” she says.
After the attack she went through months of grueling recovery that included two separate reconstructive surgeries.
“The recovery process was extremely hard for me. I had two plastic surgeries, one to insert 10 metal plates into my skull and repair my nose which had been broken in seven places,” she says.
“I had to get my teeth completely repaired, and that was just the physical pain. I went through a very hard time dealing with the ‘why me’ stage. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that I was just in the wrong place in the wrong time.”
As the captain of the 2013 Cavan Ladies team, Jordan speaks highly of the girls who came to her aid and gave their support in her recovery process. "Captaining this group of girls was the best. They were all very important in my recovery and have been there since the start, so putting in that extra effort to get back playing and help them win the championship was a small way of returning the favor."
Her teammates weren’t the only people to come to Jordan’s aid, however.
“Everybody I knew helped out, along with strangers, too,” she says.
There were several fundraisers held to help her pay medical expenses, one of which took place at Danny Mac’s, a pub on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.
“The fundraiser in Danny Mac’s was amazing and I can never thank everyone who was involved enough,” says Jordan.
After the victory, the team celebrated the championship with aplomb. "We celebrated in style. We went to Danny Mac's and had a very good night,” she says.
Though they didn't let the win get to their heads. "We're already getting set up for next year's football," she says confidently.
"We have a very young team so we know if we keep working hard we will at least be in contention next year again," she says.
When asked about whether she felt any anxiety about returning to the pitch after her trauma, Jordan says that she was "very anxious at all times about my head injuries and playing football."
Yet that anxiety wasn't going to stop Jordan. "I wasn't going to use [my injuries] as an excuse. I never let it hold me back in any games."
Now over a year after the attack, Jordan relates that she feels like she's returned to normal.
"I feel I have returned to myself. I feel great right now. Everything has gone back to normal."
Jordan has returned to the football pitch as well as to work at O’Connor’s, a pub where she bartends in White Plains. She extends a bit of advice to anyone who might suffer an attack the same way that she has.
"I would advise anybody who goes through something like this to not shut people out. I let everybody keep me upbeat at all times even when I wanted nothing more than to just lie in bed all day every day. I advise them to get up and face your demons and get out again,” she says.
"I know that is what helped me through everything."