The life of a professional athlete can be a lonely one at times. Countless solitary hours spent in the gym, pushing your body to its limit, striving for just the slightest improvement in your game.
While those hours in the gym can be lonely, the light at the end of the tunnel - being able to walk onto the pitch to compete along with your teammates - is always there for you, pulling you through the pain.
No one knows that pain better than Kara Lang.
For the past year, Lang has been been working day and night to re-train her body; to break it down so that she could build it up again, in the hopes that she could resume a career she was forced to end in 2011.
It was then, at the age of 24, that she retired from the game.
"I have come to the very difficult decision to retire from soccer and step down from the national team," she said. "I have always held myself to a very high standard — as it is demanded at the international level. Regrettably, I am physically incapable of maintaining that standard and fulfilling my role as a player."
Lang has twice torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, the first occurring in 2005 and the second in 2009.
Early Thursday morning, Lang revealed that her knee has once again suffered serious damage.
While the extent of the damage is not yet known, the chances of Lang recovering in time for next summer's women's World Cup look remote.
Lang is one of the most decorated players in the history of Canada's women's national team program. She made her debut for Canada at the age of 15, and has scored 35 goals in 92 appearances for her country. She won a silver medal with Canada at the 2002 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup, and competed in both the Olympic Games (2008) and the Women's World Cup (2007, 2003).
Not only has she made her presence felt on the field for Canada, she has become an integral part of the women's national team program itself.
When Lang was re-introduced to her teammates in Edmonton back in October, where the team was set to play South Korea, it was as if the prodigal daughter had returned. Players and staff alike accepted her back into the fold without skipping a beat, and it was like she'd never been away.
When she announced her retirement back in January 2011, Lang said, "For the past ten years, this team has been my second family and this program my second home." You can be sure that her "family" is hurting just as much as she is right now.
Over the course of her career, Lang has become a role model for young players - both male and female - across the country. She has become the face of women's soccer in Canada, and her inspirational message of battling through adversity transcends gender.
Kara Lang will recover from her knee injury, and will continue to inspire soccer players young and old across the country - regardless of her role within the game.