Road to recovery

Star athlete recovers from ACL injury


Photo by Savannah Pritchard

Working with her physical therapist, junior Chanell Hayes recovers from a torn ACL.

Story by Molly Crouch, staff writer

“Down and ready, ladies! Watch for deep fly balls!”

The outfielders crouched into defensive position, the crowd noise faded and the batter stepped into the box, shuffling her feet confidently. She had no idea she was about to change centerfielder Chanell Hayes’ sports career and life forever.

At the crack of the bat, everyone was watching the softball soar to deep centerfield. Hayes sprinted to the fence to get in position but missed the ball by the length of her glove. Scrambling to pick it up, Hayes turned to throw the ball before she had it in her hand. She crashed to the ground screaming and writhing in pain. Flailing to find the ball, she tossed it in the air over senior Marissa Johnston’s head.

The runner was long forgotten as she advanced from base to base. Umpires were calling a timeout while the team gathered together in the middle of the field. Coaches ran to Hayes.

“Did she tear it?” “What happened?” “Is she going to be out?”

Today, Hayes is recovering from an ACL, meniscus tear, and bruised cartilage with physical therapy at St. Michael’s Rehab Center twice a week after school. Just a few months ago, in early June, when Hayes had her ACL surgery, she needed crutches to walk, but now in physical therapy she can jog, use an elliptical, leg press, and perform many more exercises.

“My therapist and my love for sports get me through physical therapy,” Hayes said. “I know I want to come back stronger than ever, so I work very hard, even the days I don’t feel like it.”

Expecting to be back on the court after Christmas break for the beginning of district, Hayes’ plans of becoming a college athlete have not faltered.

“Coaches have still been calling me and sending me letters,” Hayes said. “They just want me to continue to work hard and not give up on therapy.”

Although Hayes has gone through some dramatic changes, she has kept an optimistic outlook. She doesn’t let this setback get her down, but uses it to push herself to be a better athlete and person.

“What has kept me positive is my friends, family, teammates and God,” Hayes said. “My attitude  towards things have changed. I no longer take my talent or anything God has blessed me with for granted. I know He has a purpose for me.”

Most of the time, Hayes sits on the bench or in the bleachers, watching her teammates practice and play with a smile on her face. Hayes’ way to still be a part of the team is being a supportive manager.

“Deep down, it makes me feel depressed, and some days, I just want to cry because I miss it so much. But I try not to show it and cheer my teammates on and encourage them,” Hayes said. “I believe in them just like they believe in me.”