Written By: Amanda Szylin
The vertical jump is one of the most important aspects of volleyball. So what happens when that ability is ripped away from you just before college recruiting starts?
That’s exactly the predicament Shayla Schmidt found herself in earlier this year. During the last game of the weekend at a volleyball tournament in March 2015, Schmidt came down awkwardly on her ankle after a girl from the opposing team landed on her side of the net. Schmidt’s ankle rolled and she was unable to play in the rest of the game and left the event on crutches.
Once she returned home, her parents took to her to the doctor’s for an MRI, which revealed that she had completely torn three ligaments and partially torn another, on top of displacing her fibula. The doctor informed her that with the amount of damage, she would require surgery. The recovery period: six months.
Schmidt was devastated, but determined.
“I’ve always been a very determined person and I didn’t want to give up on my dream to play,” she explained.
Her father, a chiropractor, suggested that before opting for surgery, they try a few alternative methods first. After getting her fibula back in place, she began Cold Laser Therapy and Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy. Both of these methods help activate the cells in the ankle so it increases the healing process.
A month into this process, she visited an orthopedic sports specialist to see how she was healing. The specialist suggested transitioning from a boot to a cast, so she would have more stability.
After two weeks of wearing a cast, it was removed and ten days after that, she was released to 50% activity. Once she was able to move around and exercise, she began physical therapy. After two weeks of physical therapy, she was released to 100% activity.
An injury that should have required surgery and six months of recovery turned into two months of alternative healing methods and no surgery needed!
Schmidt was thrilled! However, because of the injury she lost three inches off of her vertical jump and her right calf was significantly smaller than her left. She began playing sand volleyball to make herself stronger and shortly after began working with a physical trainer five days a week, focusing solely on her vertical jump.
Schmidt admits she had some reservations during her first tournament back.
“It was really hard trying to play 100% when you’re worried about getting injured again,” she admits. “I am nervous because it might happen again and the doctor said if it does, it’s usually the end of your volleyball career.”
The senior said she is still working on improving her skills every day, but she is also focusing on improving her confidence.
“I want to increase my confidence level,” she said. “Obviously, after rolling my ankle, getting back into the game was really hard. I want to get my skill level back and be better than I was before.”
Like many high school seniors, she will be attending the AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships, mostly for the exposure.
“A lot of colleges go there for recruiting and all of the colleges that I am talking to are going to be there, so I want them to have another opportunity to see me,” Schmidt said.
She is currently talking to a few colleges, two in California and one in South Carolina. The Peoria, Arizona teen is planning on majoring in kinesiology and is hoping she has an opportunity to coach in the future.
Schmidt said there was one thing that kept her from giving up during her ordeal.
“Mentally, I really wanted to play in college and follow my dreams to be a college volleyball player.”
Sounds like a great reason to us! We look forward to seeing you at the 2015 AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships next week! Good luck!
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