Flynn Collins didn’t become a great soccer player by eating McDonald’s for breakfast, KFC for lunch and Subway for dinner.
Just this once, he made an exception. The Marmion senior forward figured he’d earned it.
His fast-food binge – Collins threw in Subway for something “healthysh,” he said – came on the heels of seven weeks of being unable to eat solid foods in the aftermath of jaw surgery that ended his senior season. The high-scoring forward from Batavia took the worst of a jarring collision with St. Charles East goalkeeper Mike Novotny during a match at East in September.
“As soon as I could eat food, I literally went out to three fast food restaurants and just ate everything I could just because I could,” Collins said. “I felt awful the next couple days, but I missed it so much it was ridiculous.”
After a difficult fall – physically and emotionally – things are looking up for Collins, who was cleared last month to play club soccer and, more recently, committed to play college soccer at Division III Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.
Not exactly big-boned to begin with, Collins said he lost 22 pounds during the fall with his mouth wired shut. Blending up peanut butter and whatever high-protein foods he and his family could think up only went so far, and his weight plummeted from 145 to 123 pounds.
“It definitely was a lot different,” Collins said. “I was a lot lighter. It was really rough because I’d feel weak, I’d feel light. I felt like I couldn’t really do anything. I felt I’d get out of shape really fast because I had like no fat to use for energy. That was kind of rough, but eventually, I got used to it.”
Collins gradually has put the weight back on and said he’s mostly moved beyond the injury, although he’s still restoring his conditioning with his new club team, Campton United.
Quirkily enough, Novotny is also new to Campton United, so the two are club teammates.
Novotny missed most of the rest of his season, too, after the collision.
“Him and I are pretty close now,” Collins said. “We’re kind of working on our friendship, just putting that behind us.”
Collins was well on his way to a monster senior year for the Cadets, having scored 15 goals with four assists in 12 matches. He was an all-area selection and was voted team MVP.
Collins said the injury might have disrupted his college recruiting momentum but also caused him to more deeply appreciate the schools that stayed with him.
His choice came down to Simpson and Loras College, with Simpson coming out ahead in part because he envisioned becoming more of a focal point in Simpson’s program.
There is one unfinished aspect of the recovery Collins is eager to complete before heading off to college.
The collision cracked several of his teeth and he still has a missing front tooth that he anticipates being replaced in March.
“For me that’ll be like the final thing where, alright, I’m done with it – it happened, but it’s not affecting me anymore,” Collins said. “So when that final tooth comes in, I’ll be like ‘I’m me,’ I guess.”
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.