UPDATE: Kylie Dykgraaf attended the 2015 AAU Girls' Junior National Volleyball Championship with her Rolling Thunder Volleyball Club team in the 15 Premier division. After getting a slow 0-4 start at the tournament, they came back to win four games before pool play was over, earning them a spot in the Pink Division bracket.
In bracket play, the won their first game, advancing to the championship game, which they lost to Mintonette Navy. Rolling THunder 15 Blue ended up finishing 77th out of 92 teams in the 15 Premier division.
We hope you enjoyed your time at the 2015 AAU Girls' Junior National Volleyball Championships and look forward to seeing you next year!
Written by Amanda Szylin
Kylie Dykgraaf has played volleyball for the past five years and is no stranger to the gym. Her mother is a Physical Education teacher Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois and a coach for boys’ and girls’ volleyball for 35 years!
In her five years of playing with the Rolling Thunder Volleyball Club, she has always played a grade level up and recently made the Varsity team at Lake Zurich High School as a freshman.
However, in March of last year, she injured herself while playing in a tournament in St. Louis. After a series of tests on her knee, ankle and leg, they all came back negative. Finally, they tested her hip, since it had also been bothering her since St. Louis.
They uncovered that what had been bothering her was hip dysplasia. One hip was at 25 degrees and the other was only 18. The doctors said that it was probably something that she was born with and had been playing with all her life.
I feel that since she grew so fast (like 3 inches at a time) that her growth plate in her hip didn’t grow with her, maybe because she has always been so active in sports,” her mother, Vicky, said.
The doctor suggested trying physical therapy and Cortisone shots. When neither of those worked, the doctors said they would have to resort to surgery. The scheduled the surgery after her school season, during the Thanksgiving break so she wouldn’t miss school.
The surgery took eight hours and the surgeon had to cut her hip bone, shift it to the correct 25 degree position and then secure it with pins. During the surgery they also repaired the labrum tear and shaved the hip bone to smooth out from a bump that formed from being in the wrong position.
While the surgery went well, Dykgraaf did sustain some nerve damage because the surgery took so long. The sciatic nerve was stretched, inflamed and severed. She had a “drop foot”, meaning she could not lift or move her foot at all. When she woke up from her surgery and tried to walk for the first time, it was heartbreaking.
I will never forget the look on her face when they tried to stand her up for the first time,” her mom said. “She went from excitement to get up to complete and utter failure, sadness and a look on her face like I have never seen before.”
She was fitted for a brace to help her walk and she used crutches and a wheelchair to get around. After school, she would ice and rest and she would go to both physical therapy and the chiropractor twice each week. Every time they would ask what else they would do to help, the doctor’s answer was the same: TIME.
With the amount of pain she was in, she had to miss school often. Dykgraaf fell behind in her classes and was put on the 504 plan at school, allowing her to finish her homework when she could.
“I was hard to go through school after missing so many assignments and I continued to miss school for countless number of doctor appointments,” Dykgraaf said. “It was really hard to focus and catch up with all the pain I was in. It was a struggle to get back on track.”
Club volleyball season was in full swing and because she couldn’t play, her Rolling Thunder Volleyball Club called up another setter for her 15 Blue team, while waiting for Dykgraaf to return. After more tests, it was concluded she still had severe nerve damage and the recovery time could be 1-2 years.
“The volleyball season has been bittersweet since I have been to all the tournaments and most of the practices, but only from the sideline,” Dykgraaf said.
After four months, both Dykgraaf and her mom were getting so upset that they decided to see a counselor. It was suggested that she start doing more physical activity to get motivated again. Her doctors approved her to return to minimal activity. She got a special athletic brace that flips her foot up as she walks so she has better mobility. She started back in PE and light practice with her club team. She finally got back on the volleyball court in a regional match to see what she could do.
“When I first got back on the court it was unbelievable,” said Dykgraaf. “It let me have an escape from my mental pain even though playing caused me physical pain.”
She played in two more tournaments and then ran into more complications. Her hip began to hurt again and the doctor thought she might have a stress fracture. An x-ray showed some stress but no break, but she would still have to go back on crutches for six more weeks.
An EMG showed that the nerve was coming back and healing, but she still couldn’t feel or lift her foot. The EMG revealed that the nerve was not severed, and she can wiggle her toes now!
During all of this, Dykgraaf’s goal was to make it to the AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships. Two weeks ago, the doctor released her and she will be making the trip down to Florida to play with her Rolling Thunder team.
“I wanted to come to AAU’s because it is a very fun experience with good competition and many good memories,” she said.
The Hawthorn, Illinois teen said volleyball was what kept her motivated through all of this, but she also mentions some very special cheerleaders.
“I never lost sight of the picture of me being able to play on the court with my team again,” the fifteen year old said. “My friends and teammates had my back through the entire time out of volleyball and my mom did her best to keep a smile on my face.”
From this experience, Dykgraaf has learned a very important lesson and has some wise advice for those who are going through something similar.
“I learned to never lose sight of your goals and to always stay positive,” she said. “My mom and my coaches have always reminded me to stay positive which I am very thankful for. When you can’t think straight or begin to lose hope, they put me right back on track. I want everyone who is suffering from an injury to know that you will heal and you will be able to make it through this difficult time.”
We’re glad you are able to join us at the 2015 AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships! Good luck to you and your team!
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