After battling back from injury, ‘stubborn’ Dupuis ready for one final season

“I wanted to prove to myself and everybody that told me I couldn’t play at this level that I could and would.” 

Throughout her career, senior Mia Dupuis has been set on proving people wrong. 

By her own admission, the 4-10 Dupuis is a stubborn person who has always had a chip on her shoulder. 

That was put to the test a week before camp was set to begin last summer. 

On July 23, 2022, Dupuis was playing in a semi pro summer league game and slid to win a ball. When she stood up, the girl she was defending ran through her knee and it buckled. She was diagnosed with a torn ACL and had to miss the entire 2022 season. 

Then shortly after the season ended, Stuart Gore took the head coaching job at Troy. 

With the coach gone and having had a serious injury just months prior, no one would have blamed her if she decided to walk. But her stubbornness wouldn’t allow that. 

“It wasn’t even a debate for me,” Dupuis said. “I was coming back and I was going to be better than I ever have been. I’ve been through a lot of adversity throughout my college career. The coaching change and ACL injury was something that lit a fire in me.” 

Dupuis, along with the rest of the Northwestern State (0-2) soccer team, begins the home portion of the schedule Sunday when it welcomes Rice (1-2) to the Lady Demon Soccer Complex. 

The match begins at noon and is on ESPN+ with Patrick Netherton and former NSU player Kyle Nolen on the call. 

Dupuis had to sit out the 2022 season following the injury, watching her team capture second place in the Southland Conference regular season and earn a trip to the conference tournament semifinals. 

For any athlete, having to sit and watch was difficult, but Dupuis knew people always had her back, from her family to her teammates. 

“I leaned a lot on the people around me,” she said. “My parents were always there to listen, and my sister always kept me sane and rational when I swore the world was ending. My best friends let me call to cry in the middle of the night. 

“(Teammate) Kora (Fry) was always there for me, too. She has this sixth sense about people and can always tell when something is wrong.” 

Dupuis has had to battle back with the expectation to be ready for this moment, to be back with her teammates for one final season. 

Fry, one of Dupuis’ best friends on the team, also was coming back from injury and was a perfect person for Dupuis to talk to and continue on their journeys together. 

“When I met Mia, I was just getting back from my own surgery and rehab process,” Fry said. “From having that experience, I know just how important it is to support and check in on players who are injured. 

“Throughout Mia’s rehab process, I would ask her about her physical therapy sessions and celebrate the smaller milestones she hit. And if she needed encouragement, I would remind her of the bigger goal of being back on the field.” 

Despite only being her coach for this season, first-year head coach Ian Brophy has been impressed with her drive and ability to bounce back from any obstacle life hands her. 

“One word I would describe Mia is resilient,” he said. “She is extremely tough. No matter what is going on she is going to bounce back from any little setback. We’ve seen that with her injury, but not only that, we have seen the way she is a really competitive person every day at practice and in every little activity.” 

Her injury hasn’t been the only challenge she has had to face during five years in college. 

In addition to her torn ACL, she has had six head coaches during her five collegiate years, which began at Louisiana Tech before playing two seasons at LSU-Alexandria and ultimately ending at Northwestern State. 

When looking for a final destination, NSU was a school she circled as a program she’d love to play for. 

“I think mainly I needed to prove to myself that I could play at the Division I level again,” she said. “I was torn down so harshly at my first school that I knew I needed to gain more experience and confidence in my ability.  

“Once I felt like I’d gotten that with the help of my teammates and coaches, I took a shot in the dark and reached out. Northwestern State just made so much sense being that I am only two hours from home, it’s in-state, and the program has been successful.” 

In her previous two stops, she played in 23 games in three seasons, starting 20 of them. In the spring of 2021, she helped lead LSUA to the semifinals of the conference tournament before falling in heartbreaking fashion on a goal with less than a minute left in regulation against LSU-Shreveport. 

With that heartbreaking loss and falling in double overtime in last year’s conference tournament to Texas A&M-Commerce, Dupuis has come so close to achieving a conference championship that reaching that goal would be the ultimate end to her collegiate career. 

“After the rollercoaster that has been my college career, a conference championship would solidify what it’s all been leading up to,” Dupuis said. “Although it’s always worth it, I would be able to tell myself that everything I’ve done for these past 18 years has led to one of the greatest achievements a team can have. 

“I have academic awards and whatnot, but I’ve yet to hold a trophy in college. That would really be something special to tell people after everything is said and done.” 

After all she has been through, from being doubted to all the coaching changes she has endured to her ACL injury, she has always had a great attitude and smile on her face. 

A chance to win that elusive championship with the home portion of the schedule begins Sunday afternoon against Rice. 

“I want to be able to look back in 10, 20, or 50 years and know that I did all I could to come back and give myself this one last opportunity,” Dupuis said. “I’m living a lot of young player’s dreams right now. That’s what has been going through my mind, especially when things get tough. 

“There is quite literally nothing better than being able to compete for your school.”