Picture this: you're rehabilitating your right knee after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament. You still go to practice, but you can't run or play with your teammates.
It inspires you to:
a) drop out of college and take up a lucrative career at McDonalds'.
b) whine like Nancy Kerrigan.
c) write and defend a thesis.
North Carolina's Kate Sidebottom chose "c." The field hockey senior forward spent her spring polishing her honors thesis on how concentration camp prisoners used art as a survival mechanism during the Holocaust.
"I'd say Kate is one of the most disciplined people I've ever met," says Holly Huff, a senior forward and Sidebottom's former roommate.
Huff says she admires the way Sidebottom worked diligently on her thesis and maintained balance in her life.
Sidebottom - who has been asked to join Phi Beta Kappa - will graduate from UNC in December with honors in history and with a chemistry minor. The two don't seem like they go together, but Sidebottom's eyeing a medical career and took all the pre-med courses just to be on the safe side.
Oh, and she plays some field hockey, too. After spending five years on the Tar Heel squad - she redshirted her freshman year - Sidebottom has worked her way into UNC coach Karen Shelton's starting lineup.
"She's been a solid player for us for five years," Shelton says. "What she does is she's steadily matured. She's had setbacks with injuries - I mean two ACL injuries, those are huge setbacks."
Sidebottom first ripped the ACL in her left knee in the spring of her senior year of high school while playing basketball. She didn't get to start practicing field hockey until January of her freshman year.
The injury to her right knee came last October in a practice. Sidebottom says she didn't realize at first what had happened. She waited until the season was over to have the surgery so she could continue to travel with the team.
That left Sidebottom with a lot of rehabilitation to do. But she was ready to play once the summer rolled around, and she worked her way into Shelton's starting lineup.
"It has been somewhat of a roller coaster," Sidebottom says. "Some people come into the program, and they make an impact their freshman year."
She adds that she knows she wasn't one of those people, but that she's glad she's making her contribution her senior year.
But that contribution might not have happened had Sidebottom not listened to her mother, Nancy.
Sidebottom's mother - a UNC alumna - raised her daughter to cheer for her alma mater.
"I was raised as a Tar Heel," Sidebottom says with a smile. "I had blue and white pom-poms in my hand when I was 2."
Sidebottom originally wasn't sold on UNC because she worried it was too big for her and that she couldn't play field hockey for the school.
But time has proven that mother knows best.