College Soccer Player Beats Cardiac Arrest and Returns in Style From Life Threatening Ordeal

Published 02/26/2024, 8:56 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Mackenzie, a collegiate soccer player, defied all expectations and triumphantly returned to the field at Louisiana Tech just seven months after a near-death experience. Her journey began with a tragic incident during freshman orientation when she suddenly collapsed during practice because of a cardiac arrest.

Understandably, the unexpected event sent shockwaves through her team and loved ones. A scary fact is that such incidents are not unheard of. As she fought for her life, the following minutes were filled with panic and doubt. Her parents received the dreaded news that every parent fears, awakening them in the middle of the night.

Mackenzie Kelso recalls the dreadful experience


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Mackenzie narrated the harrowing incident and how it all transpired. The goalkeeper suffered a cardiac arrest during their routine warm up, sending every person into a frenzy. “From what my parents told me and what my teammates told me, I collapsed during warmups and suffered a cardiac arrest, which turned into an anoxic brain injury because no one did CPR for six-eight minutes until the EMTs arrived,” she said.

From running on the field with absolute freedom to getting bedridden, it was a massive setback for her.


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Surrounded by dedicated medical professionals and unwavering familial love, she embarked on a remarkable recovery journey. With sheer determination, she overcame physical and cognitive challenges, relearning basic motor skills and defying expectations.

Under the expert guidance of her doctors, she achieved remarkable progress, reclaiming her place on the soccer field. She completed her rehabilitation from bed to field at the Craig Hospital. “Learning how to walk, I couldn’t walk very well because the right side of my body was slow to wake up so my right leg was slower,” Mac said. “Speech was kind of cognitive, learning how to read again, talking, eating.”

Imagine getting a brain injury as a young athlete? It can be completely deflating, but she had other plans in store.

From hospital room to running on the field


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Mac’s journey as she returns to college is a powerful symbol of resilience. Her ability to bounce back from adversity shows the remarkable potential of the human spirit. Through her own experiences, Mac advocates for increased awareness and availability of CPR and AED machines, hoping to prevent others from facing tragic situations. Mac’s is sending a message of understanding the importance of right preparation for emergencies.

However, for the perfectionist soccer player, satisfaction will hit when she is at full tilt. Still unhappy with her performance and the minor blips, she is laser-focused to get back to full throttle. But, for a person to go through so much in such less time and bounce back, is remarkable.


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Not many professional athletes can come back from setbacks like that, but she defied all odds. For her to be running in the field, doing what she loves, is a victory already!

Every time she returns to the soccer field, she defies expectations and provides a potent reminder of the extraordinary human capacity to overcome even the most formidable challenges.


Written by:

Allen James


One take at a time

Allen James is a writer at EssentiallySports who covers Cycling, MotoGP, Combat sports, and other trending moments in the sports realm. With a degree in mass communication, Allen is putting his learnings to the best use in covering a wide array of viral topics. He loves diving into the conversations surrounding his work, soaking up the various perspectives out there, and then using them as inspiration in his craft. It’s this very curiosity that turns him into a bonafide sports nerd!
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad