Caitlin Hankins – Belmont Abbey College Volleyball
The sound of sirens, the hospital smell, the excruciating pain, and the constant reminder of “how did that just happen” is all I can recall from December 5, 2013…
On this unforgettable day, I happened to hit the greatest kill known in my career only to land in the hospital with a very sore right shoulder and two broken bones (tibia/fibula) in my lower right leg.
It was the morning of the first round of NCAA Division II Regionals during our 30-minute morning run through that each team got on this morning. We were just going through plays and warming up our arms for the historical evening ahead of us. Our game that evening was at 7, and our team seemed overall nervous, but I remember waking up that morning extremely focused, excited, and ready to play! Little did I know that I would be watching my team play, from an iPad in a hospital bed.
Being an athlete and working out every day had been my lifestyle up until this day, and resting wasn’t really what I was known for. I’m used to playing through little aches and pains as I was determined to always give 110% to the game I love!
But this very day changed that, among other things, when I wasn’t able to get up from this injury. Being sent to the hospital, leaving my coach and teammates behind that morning was the thing that put me in tears more so than the pain (although, yes it did hurt very much)!
On the evening of December 5, 2013, Belmont Abbey’s Volleyball season ended, and although I couldn’t have predicted my injury, I felt partly responsible for that.
The next few months were extremely hard. I was angry, depressed, and willing to give it all up! I couldn’t imagine my life without volleyball and I felt as if it was taken away from me as the doctors told me it was going to take at least 10 months to get back to 100% on the court. So spring season was not an option for me and neither were the spring workouts with the team. I was finally, for the first time in my life, forced to sit and take a break.
The first three months of recovery I was basically non-weight bearing and on crutches. It was horrible and not fun. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything with my friends as it was all more effort than I was willing to put in. It wasn’t until April, when I was officially out of the boot, off the crutches, and only walking with a limp did I realize I needed to do something about my attitude and effort if I was going to try making it back in time for my junior year of volleyball.
What changed was that I realized I had the potential to not only make it back by season, but to get cleared before the doctors predicted and I didn’t want to miss anything! From that bright day forward I worked my butt of in the gym. I went in with my heart rate monitor and I didn’t leave the gym until I burnt 1000 calories. Yes it was miserable, tiring, and extremely hard as I was still limited and very much out of shape. I didn’t give up though. I pushed and pushed with the help and support of my friends, family, and my personal trainers at Zero Gravity Fitness.
Not only did I get cleared on the very first day of preseason, making my recovery 9 months instead of 10 months like predicted, I only missed one match before earning my starting position back. To make it back on that court meant more to me than imaginable and to be back out there helping my teammates made it all the better!
NEVER GIVE UP on something you can’t go on living without!
Belmont Abbey College Volleyball Player