David Moll, Dinos Athletics
Aug. 25, 2023
Men’s soccer player returns for 1 last kick with the Dinos
William Fiore plans to play soccer until he can’t walk anymore. During his seven years as a Dino, that plan was put to the test.
Fiore’s rollercoaster university career began in the summer of 2016, when he was dealing with some minor injuries that caused him to miss time in his rookie season.
“When I first got to U of C, I instantly started in physio, and I missed the home opener and the first few practices, so I was super excited to get back into it,” he recalls.
As Fiore prepared to return to play, an opportunity to play nationals with his club team arose, and since he hadn’t played many games with the Dinos, he decided to go to Toronto with his club team.
“The third game in Toronto, I went to tackle and tore my calf,” says Fiore.
It was the first major injury he had suffered, and he couldn’t put any weight on it or walk on it on the journey home to Calgary.
Athletic department becomes 'home'
As a member of the Dinos, Fiore had access to the amazing athletic therapy department at UCalgary, led by Bonnie Sutter.
“The athletic department kind of became my home,” he says.
Little did he know, it would be his home for much longer than he could have ever anticipated. He rehabbed his calf injury for over half a year, and he was getting set to return to play when the training staff raised concerns about his knee.
A doctor conducted an ACL test and determined that Fiore had torn his ACL, likely at the same time as the calf tear, but due to the swelling an ACL test had never been done.
Fiore was sent to Dr. Nicholas Mohtadi, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in the Sport Medicine Centre at UCalgary.
“The second he took a look at my knee, he said, ‘there’s something wrong with it, but I don’t know what yet,’” says Fiore.
MRI reveals major surprise
An MRI revealed a major surprise: he had a tumor inside his left distal femur. The tumor had eaten away at so much of the bone that the femur had the strength of an egg shell, leading to concerns it would fracture and forever alter his knee and leg structure.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” he recalls. “But then I just remember saying, ‘Okay, what’s the plan?’”
He was sent for surgery right away. It began with an open leg biopsy, where a bit of the tumor was shaved off to be tested. It was found to be benign but with the chance to break through the bone. Three weeks later, he had a tumor debulking surgery.
“Essentially, they took about a can of Coke-sized piece of bone out of my leg, and replaced it with a bone graft, a metal plate, and nine screws,” he says.
It was an intense surgery, and Fiore was warned that he may never be able to play soccer or even run again.
“It was definitely the most difficult part of my life, mentally. But I’m also grateful it happened because it gave me the chance to take a step back and look at what life after sport would be like.”
Fiore credits the athletic therapy department for getting him through that difficult time, both physically and mentally. Working with the team, he rehabbed the injury for almost two years and returned to play in the season opener of the 2019 season.
“It was an unbelievable experience to come back and play again,” he says.
He played the 2019 and 2021 seasons, with the 2020 season cancelled due to COVID. As a finance major in the Haskayne School of Business, Fiore took an internship which turned into a full-time job, so he took a step back from school for a year.
Fast forward to now, and Fiore has decided to return to school to finish his finance degree. Due to his knee injury, he also has plenty of eligibility left to play for the Dinos.
After being on the fence for a bit, Fiore decided he wanted to return to play as an older player, seeing how the team has shaped up and changed while he has been away.
“I have such a great relationship with the team manager, and a lot of the players, and it’s something I love doing,” he says.
“I will never not want to play, and as long as I have the ability to, I will always try to play.”
Fiore and the Dinos men’s soccer team begin their 2023 Canada West campaign on Aug. 27 when they host the Mount Royal Cougars at Dinosaur Field. Single game and season tickets are on sale now at GoDinos.com/Tickets. UCalgary students can access free tickets by using their UCID on ShowPass.