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The ups and downs of Helena ’21’s volleyball injury

Helena ’21 made waves in the Marlborough volleyball community last year when she was the only freshman who made it onto the varsity team. Unfortunately eight months ago, she tore her ACL playing in a tournament in Kansas City. Since then, her volleyball career has changed for the better and for the worse.

As a freshman, Helena impressed many with her talent and athleticism. “The seniors and upperclassmen were super inviting, inclusive and welcoming,” she said. “The experience bettered me as a player and taught me so many things, from teamwork to communication on the court to meeting new people and making new friends.”

Her injury occurred when she went to hit, playing as an outside hitter for her club Sunshine 16 Westside team. She landed hard, causing her knee to snap and for her entire femur to dislocate. “I could hear the snap when I landed,” Helena said.

Unable to stand up, she knew that the injury was serious, but her coaches and the entire coaching staff were in denial. She was told to ‘just ice it’ and to get back up and go back onto the court.

During her recovery, her friends, family, and teammates supported her wholeheartedly. Her Marlborough friends and teammates visited her, comforted her and made sure she was alright. Helena considered her mom, Donna Econn, the biggest member of her support system.

“She was the person who loved me and took care of me when I was bedridden for three weeks after my surgery,” Helena said.

Even though she had a great support system, her injury greatly impacted her as well as her dynamic with her teammates. “One of the worst things was watching my team go to the Junior Olympics without me, having to watch them struggle without me while I sat on the sidelines,” she said.

Helena was also disappointed because during peak recruiting time, she was forced to tell colleges that she was out for a season, badly injured. “I felt like I was letting the schools down, and myself down,” she said. “It was horrible.”

Even though Helena’s injury impacted the negatively, she said that there were some benefits. Being unable to play forced her to get to know her teammates better. “I got to know them on a more personal level, not just as a volleyball player,” she said. Expanding the bonds she had with her teammates,  she eventually became able to call them friends and found a small silver-lining in her injury.

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