Written by: Amanda Szylin
In January of 2014, Kennedy Hehr was in a life-threatening car crash. Her stomach was severed completely in half and she had extensive internal injuries. Doctors told her she was lucky to be alive. She persevered and played a full volleyball game just months after her car accident.
Unfortunately, two weeks before the 2014 AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships, she tore her meniscus, sidelining her during Nationals.
“I knew I was done,” she stated. “You just know because it hurts so much. You can’t walk, you can’t do anything.”
And that is what she was forced to do all summer: nothing.
Her meniscus was torn, twisted and flipped, so she had to have it repaired, rather than taken out. The surgery was quite extensive and required 20 stitches. She attended hour long physical therapy sessions, three times a week and was on crutches all summer.
During all of this, Hehr said the mental part was the hardest to overcome.
“I didn’t really have a choice but to push through because volleyball is all that I do,” Hehr said. “It was hard. I didn’t think I was going to be able to. Mentally it really broke me down so I just had to really push through.”
And that is exactly what she did. She kept pushing through with one goal in mind: play at the 2015 AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships with her Club Fusion team.
“It’s my favorite tournament of the entire year,” said Hehr. “This is what everyone works for the entire season to come here to show how you play and what you can do.”
Hehr finally had the opportunity to travel to Orlando, Florida from Wisconsin to play in her favorite tournament.
“It’s awesome to be here,” she exclaimed. “My team keeps talking about last year, last year, last year and I wasn’t there so obviously I don’t know all of the memories that happened and we’re just continuing to make new ones and I’m so excited.”
She led her Club Fusion 16 Black team to eight wins in pool play, including a challenge match, which earned them a spot in the Gold Championship Bracket of the 16 Open division.
On Championship day, they defeated K2 16 Elite in three sets and Mizuno Sports Performance 16 Elite in two to advance to the championship game against Nebraska Elite 16 Vici. After winning the first set, 25-22, Fusion looked like they might take the title.
But Nebraska came back strong in the second set, winning 25-22. In a tight third set, Club Fusion couldn’t hold on and dropped the game to Nebraska Elite, 12-15, to become the number two team in the 16 Open division.
While a Championship title would have been nice, Kennedy Hehr was simply glad to be back on the court at the AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships. And hey, placing second out of 66 isn’t too bad either.
We hope to see you next year, Kennedy!
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