What would my life had been like if I didn’t get to experience all that I have in the past 4 years…
It all goes back to my true freshman year at Minnesota State University Mankato. Going into the fall I had been told I was almost positively going to redshirt, as we had 4 other pitchers on staff and I had some growing and strengthening to still do. So my goal in practice and the fall games was to listen, watch, ask questions, and learn as much as I could from the older girls and coaches.
Suddenly, one day not long before winter break one of the veteran catchers came up to me and asked where I thought I stood with the pitchers. I have never been great at giving myself full credit, so I answered maybe 3 or 4? She laughed and told me no, you are number 1, you are our golden ticket. I was shocked to hear this, I knew things were going well, but I still never thought I was going to be in the picture that season. She told me that she and some of the other seniors had talked to the coaches about pulling my redshirt because they felt strongly about the impact I could have. That moment gave me all of the motivation and confidence I needed moving forward.
Come winter break the coaches told me I wasn’t going to redshirt and I was so excited to get to take the field with this team. We went down to Arizona for the first weekend and I got my first start – and WIN! It was a great feeling to know that all of my handwork through the years had paid off to be able to play collegiately for my hometown college. Things seemed to be going so smoothly, the start of what could be an incredible year.
Everything started to take a turn for the worse in our next outing in Rochester Minnesota. I was having a lot of trouble with my hand being extra sweaty and I could tell something just wasn’t right. I started to have forearm pain throwing overhand but was still okay pitching. I went to the trainers after these games and told them what happened. After multiple discussions they set me up to see an orthopedic surgeon to XRAY my forearm, they found nothing… They came to the conclusion that I basically had a shin splint in my forearm, but why? How? Little did we know it would take a year to get that question answered.
I went on to Florida for our spring break trip and we were attempting a tape job to help alleviate some of the pain. I got through the first game alright – in a little pain, but not nearly what I was about to experience. The next game rolled around and after it finished, I knew something really bad had happened. My arm was trembling, when I turned my hand it shook uncontrollably. It was to the point where I could in no way throw a ball overhand… or underhand. We road out the trip wearing a sling to help the pain and worked on scheduling an appointment with TRIA orthopedic upon our return to Minnesota. I knew in my gut that something was more wrong than what we had thought.
We went to TRIA the day after we got back, talked to the surgeon, got an XRAY, and waited in the room to hear the results. She found a stress reaction and bone growth on top of my ulna in the middle of my forearm. Basically, the muscle was pulling away from the bone every time I rotated and new bone was trying to form in it’s place. She told me then and there that my season was over and the next step wasn’t really known. I was put in a air cast from my wrist to above my elbow so that I couldn’t rotate at all for a couple of months and would revisit it to see how things healed up – if at all.
My season was over… I didn’t get to play with those seniors that worked so hard to get me in the lineup with them. I felt like I was letting so many people down, and I only got to play a few games. I ended the season with a 5-1 record, which was good considering that allowed me to take a medical redshirt.
We went back for the next appointment and nothing had changed, we thought our only option was a potential surgery that had only been done on one other person. (Cut me open, cut my muscle away from my bone, shave off the new bone, reattach the muscle, sew me back up) This didn’t sound like a great option, so we decided to continue to stay shut down until the fall to see if things were any better.
Fall rolled around, no changes… Winter rolled around, no changes… the season is once again upon us and, well, no changes…
We decided it was time to try a cortisone shot, but first I needed to trigger the pain so that we could find exactly where the shot needed to go. So, here we are headed down to the opening weekend where I pitched, which I hadn’t done for about a year, with a low pitch count, and only throwing fastballs and changeups. Pain was triggered and when we got back it was time to try the shot and guess what… NO CHANGES!
At this point I had a sit down meeting with my coach and the discussion we had was one of the hardest one’s of my life. Was my career over… was that it, had we exhausted all options? Was my career really over before it even had a chance to begin?
Then a miracle happened.
The Men’s Hockey Coach at MSU told my coach about a man in the cities that did some alternative kind of medicine that was hard to understand and really hard to explain. We were willing to try anything at this point, so skeptically, my dad, head coach, and I headed to Shoreview to give it a shot. He adjusted my vertebrae, shoulder, elbow, and wrist. The second he popped my elbow, I felt a shooting pain down my forearm – and instant relief! I couldn’t believe it! He was a miracle worker! Just like that, he cured me! He explained that pain isn’t always where the source of the issue is, my ulnar bone was out of the joint in my elbow, causing it to pull away from my muscle when rotated. We left his office all practically in tears, giddy for what seemed like a miracle.
That season we walked on eggshells a little bit, not wanting to press our luck by pitching too much. Basically, we couldn’t practice much, we needed to save my arm for games. The season was everything I dreamed of and more, earning Freshman of the year and Pitcher of the year honors in the Conference. With everything I had endured in the past year, that was the moment I realized the silver lining in it all. I owe a ton of my successes that season to the previous season, that I was able to watch from the sideline and learn things that I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to learn before doing. I was able to pick up on things that I may have had to learn the hard way had I been on the field. My message to everyone, whether you are playing your freshman year or not – the more you watch and truly try to learn, the more it will benefit you when you get that chance to step on the field.
To this day, with semi regular visits to the miracle worker, my arm has been healed! I got to continue my career at MSU, learn so much about myself, and have the time of my life.
With all battles that we face we ask ourselves why? Why me? I learned my why this past May, when we won the D2 National Championship. Had I not gotten hurt that first year, I wouldn’t have still been playing alongside my teammates this past season. I learned to take advantage of every second you have playing the game you love, because nothing is guaranteed. From that moment forward I felt like I was getting a second chance – one that so many people worked so hard to help me get.