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Oct. 3, 2012

Sophomore midfielder Eric Bird is having a great season for the Virginia soccer team. While that is noteworthy in and of itself, it’s even more impressive when considering Bird is just over a year removed from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL. After a long rehab, Bird has returned stronger than ever and has been a force in the Cavaliers’ midfield, starting all 10 games for UVa. He took time this week to talk with about a wide array of issues.

Can you guide us through your rehab during the offseason?
It was definitely a grind. It happened on September 23rd (against North Carolina). The first few months is trying to get your flection back and getting the full range of motion in your knee. That’s pretty painful and it took about two months. During the spring, three months into it, I started jogging and stuff. Around four or five months in I could get touches on the ball in ball drills. Then six months I was back in it.

Talk about the motivation that Will Bates and Bryan Lima provided while you all rehabbed together.
It was a big time motivation. It worked out that my injury was a little more severe than Bates’ so we were on the exact same rehab path. We would be working out doing the same exact exercises right next to each other. We’re both competitive people by nature so seeing him doing a certain amount of weight I wanted to up him, then he sees me doing it and he wants to up me. It was a little competition and worked out to be really good motivation.

Do you feel like you’re 100 percent?
It gets at me here and there. I still wear the Kinesio tape for my MCL when I try and kick the ball sometimes. I feel a tug here and there, but other than that I feel good about movement and stuff.

Why did you first choose to come to UVa?
To be honest, I always wanted to go to UVa when I was younger. I was always a fan and when I went to visit other schools it didn’t feel right. I would always come up to Charlottesville to play different games against the local team here, SOCA. I always loved the school, loved the campus. Obviously it’s one of the best schools in the nation academically and my parents like that about it. All those things factored into it, and the soccer is great – don’t forget about that.

Talk about your role as a distributor on the field.
I’m not really a goal scorer. I’m really content with getting the ball and keeping it with our team. I’d definitely rather make that final pass than get the game-winning goal.

Talk about the team’s season so far.
I think as a team we are having a little bit of an up and down here and there. I’m optimistic about it because I kind of figured this would happen because we’re young, not that that’s an excuse. I think we are going to pull it together though and do something special.

Talk about the upcoming game at Maryland.
We were actually talking about it last night. I’ve never played there so some of the older guys, Will Bates and Marcus Douglas, were talking about how hectic it can get there with six or seven thousand fans just screaming in your face. I can’t wait, it sounds exciting to me.

Talk about where the team needs to go from here.
I think we are doing all right, but we have seven more tough tests against potential playoff teams. I think that is going to be a real test of character, but I think we will be able to meet the challenge and do well.

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