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Bigger Than Volleyball – University of Nebraska

The Running Emergency

It all started during a routine conditioning exercise. 

I was preparing alongside my sister for my first ever high school tryout. It wasn’t anything crazy—just a timed 1.5-mile run. We were side-by-side and stride-for-stride. 

And then we weren’t. I fainted.

Before I realized what was going on, I was being rushed to the hospital. I immediately started thinking about all of the possible reasons for my predicament. 

I was coming back from a huge national tournament, a beach tournament, and a couple of camps. What can I say? It was a busy summer for me. I was trying to fit that conditioning training in at the very end, and it just felt like all of the hard work and lack of rest finally caught up with me.

But things were more serious than I could have ever imagined—far, far more serious.

My doctor found a tumor on the left side of my brain. My parents were absolutely devastated over the news more out of concern for me. As for myself, on the other hand, only one thought popped into my head: I can’t believe I’m going to miss my high school tryout.

I just felt like I should have been there, you know? There I was being scheduled for brain surgery, while the other girls were getting ready for the season. It’s hard watching the sport you love and not being able to be a part of it.

But things could have been worse. I could have had some long, drawn-out recovery process that kept me away from playing for good. Yet, three weeks after my recovery, I was back on the field completing a private tryout for my high school coach and earning a spot on the team.

Not everybody was on board with me jumping back into that fire right after surgery. My mom especially – she was concerned enough to even ask the coach to consider making me a team manager instead. She was just being a mom and doing her best to look out for me.

My coach explained how playing the game would be therapeutic for me and potentially help in my recovery. I’ll never forget his willingness to have a meaningful heart-to-heart conversation with my mother and help her understand what I was feeling.

Volleyball has long been my escape from the real world. It’s something that I’ve been able to turn to and lose myself in almost every day. But in the back of my mind, I knew there was always a possibility the tumor would come back.

I knew there was a chance that part of my fight was far from over.

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