As I grew up I was always considered an athlete. I got scouted onto a competitive gymnastics team when I was about 6 years old and was taught many things about the strength and movement of my body. I competed in trampoline and tumbling as well as gymnastics till I got a little bit too tall for the sport.
I began playing basketball when I was about 8 and grew to love the sport. I played basketball from grade 5 all the way up to grade 12. And was being scouted by schools in California and here in Alberta (UofC, Olds, SAIT, & Lethbridge). However, I didn’t just play basketball.
As a natural athlete with raw talent I found it hard to just pick one sport, so I pretty much played them all. Badminton, swimming, skiing, track and volleyball. Throughout high school I played on the volleyball, basketball, track and badminton teams. I received the rookie award, multiple MVP awards from grades 9-12 for basketball and track and even had 5th and 6th place finishes in high jump long, jump, 400m for track provincials in grades 10-12.
I was always one of the strongest, one of the fastest and my body never got in my way. It held up to the demands I had for it and it always seemed to keep up.
Now I’m not listing those achievements to brag. Most of those awards I’ve already thrown out because honestly, 5 years later… they don’t really matter. My point is that in whatever sport I competed in, I worked hard, my body was my powerful tool and I was very successful.
Long story short, after playing my first and only year of club volleyball with the Dinos U18 team, and having an amazing grade 12 volleyball coach, Delday Hemsing, who always told me how much my body was built for volleyball, I decided volleyball was my favorite sport. However, I had opportunities to play basketball at UofC, or in California, But I also had offers to play volleyball at SAIT and Lethbridge, and a potential offer from MRU.
I decided to join SAIT volleyball in 2014 and was very thankful for Art O’Dwyer for taking me on as a developmental player. I spent two years at SAIT and learned a ton. But I didn’t feel like it was the best fit for me academically and I didn’t really get played (don’t we all wish for more play time??).
I began looking at other options and decided to go to NAIT and play for the Ooks under Benj Heinrichs in the 2016-2017 season.
Needless to say, it was one of the BEST decisions I have ever made. Benj saw my talent and realized my potential and I was extremely pleased with this opportunity.
Now remember how I just love sports, well that summer as I was signing for NAIT, things got a little messy.
In an unfortunate accident in May while playing competitive Frisbee (OF ALL THINGS!!!!), I sprained my left ankle real bad. After telling everyone I was okay and walking back over the field and driving my STANDARD HOME!!! I realized that this was not a quick little sprain. Turns out it was an evulsion fracture and I was going to be out for about 5 months.
(For those of you who don’t know what an evulsion fracture is, it’s when your tendon peels your bone back because of a trauma, but your bone or tendon don’t necessarily break of tear respectively. SO… basically worse than a break.)
I was in a boot and crutches for about 4 weeks and then just a boot for 3 ish weeks. Moved up to Edmonton and still wasn’t even close to playing competitive volleyball. Luckily, I had all September off season to heal up and was about 80% ready by the start of the season in October. I felt healthy and physio had helped tune me up, so I was able to feel strong again too. I was en route to get onto that starting lineup.
During November, a month into the season I had made a few game appearances, and all was going well.
…except with my luck, that doesn’t last long.
As I was blocking in practice a teammate came under the net, I landed on her and re rolled that same ankle (LEFT). This time it after getting and MRI the diagnosis was a chipped ankle bone and some torn tendons. Now re-breaking the same ankle you basically broke 5 months ago, is something I would never advise anyone to do. It fricken HURT! I cried a lot, couldn’t drive my standard, had to be in a boot and crutches for about two months BUT worst of all, my season was over. A season that was shaping up to be my best season ever, torn from me. (no pun intended)
Yeah, I was sad but after a while of feeling sorry for myself I realized I was still a member of this amazing team, but my role was a little different now. Even though I wasn’t allowed to dress or travel, how I contributed was different. I score kept, down balled, served, kept stats, filled water bottles. Sure, it wasn’t as flashy as getting POG and starting every game (something I had yet to experience) but I tried my best to be positive and do what I could to contribute where me and my little cankle could.
Luckily because of the league rules regarding season ending injuries I got that year back.
So fast forward to the summer of 2017, my ankle was feeling fine I had an amazing friend privately training me (Randy you’re a champ) in serve receive, hitting and serving. I was also working out like a nut and trying to make up the time (and gains) I had lost during my first year at NAIT because of injuries. I probably played volleyball 5 times a week and was working out 4 times. I did physio, ran stairs, stretched, took vitamins, drank a lot of water and even watched volleyball vids because I was determined to come back stronger.
Another fast forward into my second year of NAIT (2017-2018). I get there. Teams amazing. Coaches rock. My body feels perfect and I’m STARTING! I was pumped. I worked hard for three years battled injuries and it was finally my time to start. #Blessed!
First in season game went really well. Fast forward to the next week.
I wake up and I literally can’t put any weight on my right leg. I’m in so much pain I felt like puking, but I ate a bagel, traveled to the game and strapped my shoe and ankle brace on the tightest it would go.
I tried warming up but was fighting back tears the whole time. Started. Played the entire game. Could hardly jump. And every chance I got I put my leg up on the bench during time outs. I was uncontrollably limping but fought through.
After the game I hung back in the team room after everyone left and just cried. My leg was limp, I could hardly feel my toes and I was nauseous.
Stress fracture in my right fibula. I played 2 entire games with a stress fracture. So here I am again, finally getting a break and yet again for the 3rd time in a year and a bit, I’m back in a boot and my season is in question.
It took about 2 1/2 months to come back but by middle of the season I was basically good.
BAM!!! Rolled my right ankle again. This time it was just a tweak, but I was out for about 4 weeks. So that basically puts us right up to provincials. I wasn’t starting but I was one of the first ones off the bench.
It was literally the best team I’ve ever played with and I was just glad that I was able to play alongside them for the last bit of the season.
Summer 2018. Calgary made this professional volleyball league called One Premier League, originating from Toronto. I didn’t really want to sign up because I was hardly getting played after 4 years in the ACAC, I felt weak and honestly just wasn’t confident enough to believe I could make it.
But luckily my boyfriend and friend signed up and I just threw my name in the draft for the heck of it.
I GOT DRAFTED! By the Cold Garden team coached by Dallas Soonias, and Curtis James. I don’t think you can understand how excited I was for this opportunity. They were the team I wanted to play for and I got picked by them. The practices are amazing, the group chat is ridiculous, and I have already learned so much from them.
On top of all that goodness, I felt like I was jumping through the roof (9”11 ½ vert… and yes I’m bragging because my ankles have held me back for such a long time that jumping this high after 4 ‘broken’ ankles… is a feat and a half. HAHA again, no pun intended). I was feeling confident and I was hitting those fast pipes like no tomorrow. Maybe I was even gunna start?!!! Who knows? I don’t, because
IM INJURED AGAIN!!!!!
I don’t really know what happened this time, but I went down and was in shock for the rest of practice as I score kept and iced.
I found out that it was an accident and was completely not my fault. It was just a freak accident where someone came under the net and I landed on them.
WHY ME THO! Am I really that bad of luck?
So fast forward to today. I’m sitting on the couch writing this while icing my ankle because frankly I can’t keep the details straight. My crutches are here beside me and I’m internally debating whether to tell people I’m injured again or not.
It’s almost embarrassing being injured again. It’s annoying. Frustrating. Tormenting and hope depriving. I feel weak and sad and angry and blah blah blah. Why does this always happen to me?
Asking that question doesn’t help though. It happens to me. It’s happened to me. And it doesn’t matter why. It’s just how it is. This is my story and it’s a painful and confusing one but its mine.
I tore all the tendons in my ankle and it is bruised like crazy. I can’t walk too well, and I cannot play in our first premier game but could be out for 4 to 8 weeks. It’s sad yeah but I’ve done this before. I know how to do the best contrast bath. How to wrap my ankle up to the nines. I know how long I can leave the ice on until I get frostbite but most of all I know that I can handle this.
I’m strong even if my ankles are weak. I’m an athlete and I took these risks, and even though I’ve (for the sake of simplicity) ‘broke’ my ankle 5 times in two years, I haven’t stopped trying to get better. I haven’t given up and when my ankles break and I fall down I’ve always gotten back up. So, this time, that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
I often hear people say, “why do you do this to yourself?”, “you did it again?”, “how do you keep doing this?”, “you really are a band aid aren’t you?”. Well, I didn’t just wake up this morning and decide “hey, I feel like today is a good day to break my ankle”. I didn’t do this just for fun. Because it sure isn’t.
My opponent didn’t just decide to throw her foot under the net and ruin my season. Cause that would be stupid!
The truth is, I don’t really know. I don’t have an answer for you. I can try to explain how it was or wasn’t my fault. I can be mad at people for coming under and destroying my season. But what does that do? It just stops me from thinking about how I can contribute, what I can do to improve, who else needs help and any other productive positive thought I could have.
I’m not a band aid and I’m not weak. I’m not broken. I’m an athlete.
But hey in all seriousness haha Joke about it with me. It’s funny to hear what jokes come up. Laugh about my cankles and be shocked that it happened again! Seriously! DO IT. It’s funny!
But just know that I’ve accepted what happened. And I’m gunna keep walking weather it’s with a crutch and a bruise on my ankle or if it’s on the back of someone carrying me off the court. This is my story and I’m gunna rock it. This is my story and its never gunna be anyone else’s. I love volleyball. lessons I’ve learned through what I’ve gone through are different from the lessons you’ve learned through what you have gone through.
I only have one POG water bottle. I have no post-secondary medals. I have no school athletic awards.
But I do have an air cast, 7 tensor bandages, a set of crutches and an amazing story to tell.
So, who knows when I’ll be back but then again, what does ‘back’ really mean?
By: Kaleigh fisk