Mackenzie Kelso makes miraculous recovery back to college soccer

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Mackenzie Kelso is returning to her team at Louisiana Tech only seven months after suffering cardiac arrest on the field.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The first week at college should be the most memorable time of a young person’s life.

“On that day, I don’t remember anything.”

But not for new freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie “Mac” Kelso, who’s memory from her first days at Louisiana Tech are wiped clean.

“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,” Mac said.

Yet, that moment in July is one that her parents Brian and Julie will never forget.

“About 2:00 in the morning, we received a phone call from the Ruston ER, stating that our daughter had coded three times,” Brian said, choking back tears. “Truly one of the darkest times of our lives, followed by the absolute biggest blessing and miracle you could ever ask for.”


The road to recovery began with re-learning to take a single step.

“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.”

Mac’s doctor at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas was bullish on her development. Walking and talking wasn’t nearly enough.

“He did an evaluation and quickly said ‘We’re going to get her home,’ and Julie and I smiled, and he said, ‘Not to your home, we’re going to get her back to college,’ and that was the first time in a long time that somebody had acknowledged that recovery was possible,” Brian said.

Back home in Colorado, with help from her rehabilitation team at Craig Hospital, Mac is already back on the soccer pitch. The perfectionist is still a bit hard on herself for making miniscule mistakes, but even that will shed away with time.


“My skills are pretty clean, my form is clean, so when that doesn’t happen all the time, it gets frustrating,” she said, as she gets some extra training in with her former Real Colorado coach.

Julie has been side by side with Mac throughout the entire healing process. Proud doesn’t even begin to describe her emotions over the past seven months.

“She’s a fighter. She never gives up,” Julie said. “She works hard to continue to do the things that she wants to do and she’s a tough, tough kid.”

Miraculously, Mac will return to Ruston in less than a month and will finally begin her freshman year as a member of the Louisiana Tech women’s soccer team. She hopes her fight can be a learning lesson for teams in the future.

“There’s probably steps that could’ve been done, CPR could’ve been emitted, we could’ve had an AED machine, even though there were no trainers there,” Mac said. “I wish that more education on CPR and AED machine trainings would be administered, so something like this that happened to me, won’t happen to someone.”


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Mackenzie Kelso makes miraculous recovery back to college soccer

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