Nearly two years after an accident that should have ended her athletic career and nearly ended her life, a Cambridge goalie is back on the field.
Rylee Foster, born and raised in Cambridge, has played for football clubs around the world and finally made her return debut in the Australian Women's Professional League with the Wellington Phoenix.
Foster's harrowing journey from hospital bed to football pitch begins in 2021 after being involved in a tragic car accident on an icy night in Finland.
Foster was thrown through the windshield of the car after her seat belt gave way. She ended up breaking several vertebrae and had to be fitted with a halo device to keep her neck stable.
"Joining the Phoenix is very symbolic. It’s a new beginning… 𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐬.” 🙌— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) September 19, 2023
23 months on from a life-altering car accident, new Phoenix signing Rylee Foster is set to complete a heartwarming… pic.twitter.com/ZoHOQv3XOE
Now almost two years to the day of her accident, the Cambridge native made her professional debut for the Phoenix with a 3-0 win against Western Sydney.
“I’ve seen a lot of headlines, that I was like the biggest comeback in football history and sport history and I think it’s true, but I just want to be known as the person who defeated the odds,” Foster tells KEEPUP, the official digital network for Australian football and the A-Leagues.
The 25-year-old goalie played for many youth Canadian teams starting when she was just five-years-old with Cambridge Youth Soccer. She then went on to play for West Virginia University and was nominated for best young goalkeeper in the North and Central American region.
After her collegiate play, the Cambridge athlete got the opportunity of a lifetime and signed with Liverpool FC where she stayed until she was involved in the accident.
In her interview with the Australian League, she recalls the night of the accident in Finland when her and a group of friends piled into a car and hit ice on the highway.
“We lost control of the car, eventually the car went airborne and flipped, spun around, you name it. The whole duration of the accident was 400m," said Foster.
From a car crash that should’ve killed her twice and 7 neck fractures to an odds-defying return to football in 𝟕𝟑𝟏 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬: We’ll forever be in awe of Rylee Foster’s comeback story 🙌— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) November 2, 2023
Thank you for sharing it with us, @_ryleefoster ❤️
We’re honoured to have played a part in… pic.twitter.com/69IDowYzHa
Foster was rushed to the hospital in Helsinki where doctors discovered she fractured multiple vertebra, had severe brain bleeding and a list of other serious injuries.
The doctors later told her that she had the same injury that 'Superman' actor Christopher Reeves had and informed her that her playing days were over and there was a possibility she could never walk again.
After nearly two years of intense rehab and physiotherapy, Foster is set to start a new career in Australia and build on her dreams of competing in the Olympics and represent her country on an international stage.