Volleyball is the medium through which we express our passions. And being healthy is an integral part of being able to compete not only in sports, but also in life. Living an overall healthy lifestyle will lead to an overall better life, and for us, a small part of this is staying injury-free, since you can’t compete at your highest level when you’re injured. Both of us have faced the tribulations of injury in the past year, and have had to fight to be healthy enough to play again. However, the fight isn’t easy — maintaining a healthy attitude while rehabilitating an injury is extremely important. Rather than fixate on an injury that is out of your control, focus on what you can control.
After a string of injuries, Lexi found her own way to deal with adversity:
I ended this past season with a couple of bum wrists. As we reached the NCAA Tournament, I became a living model of the proverb, “when it rains it pours.” Every new injury got added to the list of things to tape before playing and deal with later. Coming to terms with the frustration of losing my ability to manipulate and control the ball became a daily struggle. But at the same time, I was thankful that all of my ailments were not severe enough to end my season. When my patience with my body was pushed to the brink, I found myself returning to this mentality: Focus on what you can control.
There is no point focusing on unchangeable circumstances; it will only fuel frustration. Putting energy toward pity, frustration or even anger didn’t solve the problem at hand. I tried to stay solution-oriented with my body and keep an optimistic attitude. But during the off-season, my injuries caught up with me and my role on the team dramatically changed. I was forced to think critically and creatively about how I could contribute to the team’s success by observation. Changing my focus allowed me to put in the same time and effort toward accomplishing our team goals even though I wasn’t on the court.
This mindset doesn’t only apply to athletes. I’m sure some of you have bombed a midterm at some point. You feel like you’re running uphill the rest of the semester. But the point is, you can’t look back — you have to focus on what you can control. In my case, having broken wrists was like bombing a midterm. Rehab, like studying, was what I could control.
Courtney was not so lucky in terms of being able to play through injury:
I went down in mid-November in a match against Illinois with a severe ankle sprain. As the swelling increased and the trainers took a look at me, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to play for a while, and would probably not be able to earn my starting spot back. So while I was able to start most of the year and be a part of some of the most exciting matches of the season (beating Nebraska at home and taking back-to-back national champion Penn State to five-games on our home floor), for the rest of the season I had to watch from the sidelines.
My biggest focus point: Re-prioritize and compartmentalize. Practicing (which is pretty much always in the forefront of my mind) needed to be pushed aside. I needed to focus on rehab, supporting my teammates and school. It would have been easy for me to just throw my hands up in the air and let my injury drag down the rest of my semester.
It’s safe to say that a majority of students are involved in some sort of group that they are passionate about. These students are going to face adversity at some point, whether its applying for a leadership position, fighting for a cause or fundraising for their group. A group could work on one of these things for months and at the end of the day not reach the goals they set. That was the case with my injury, which negated my months (really years) of hard work — for last season, at least. But just as these groups still have a lot to fight for, I still have two seasons ahead of me. And that’s what I need to focus on.
But no matter who you are or what struggles you face, the best way to counter adversity is with a healthy sense of perspective.
It is human nature to inflate the events in your life to a higher level of importance than they deserve. Do little things to remind yourself that what you’re going through is not the end of the world, as we did when we visited Mott Children’s Hospital. It snapped us out of any delusions that being injured was the worst thing that could happen. We needed to step back and see the bigger picture in life.
Our sprained ankles or broken wrists could be your bad grade or break up with a significant other. We’ve all faced challenges and we’ve all had struggles, but it’s more about how you deal with those struggles than the struggles themselves. In the grand scheme of our lives, our injuries — physical, emotional or otherwise — are not the be-all, end-all of our existence. Step back and think about how big your problem really is. Most of the time, what you’re going through is destined to be just a blip on the radar in the story of your life. We all must adapt to change and focus on what we can control.