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profile of volleyball player who has suffered injuries

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by ltrain1127, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. ltrain1127

    ltrain1127 Member

    Any comments, constructive criticism and feedback would be welcomed.
    Thanks in advance.

    Shouldering the rehab burden

    When it comes to earning a nickname, Katie Vancura has put in the extra effort required to make it stick.
    Dubbed “Crash” by her teammates, the 6-foot-1 Marquette outside hitter/middle blocker has had a much more difficult time getting on track with her collegiate volleyball career.
    The nickname, however, has become as much a part of the 2005 Mukwonago graduate’s identity as her outgoing personality and sunny disposition that has persisted despite a series of medical maladies.
    “It’s completely appropriate,” Vancura said of her alternate nomenclature. “Ever since I came to Marquette, I have had problem after problem. It’s appropriate, which is sad.”
    Opening night
    The night of Aug. 26, 2005 was a night Vancura would never forget, but not for the reasons she dreamed.
    Getting ready to play her first collegiate match, set to cash in on all of her years of hard work.
    Hours spent in sweaty gyms cracking on ball after ball. Miles spent on highways going to matches and tournaments. Years of dreams.
    They were all about to be realized.
    Her parents, Randy and Michelle, were in the stands at the Al McGuire Center in downtown Milwaukee, along with her grandparents and some friends.
    As the team warmed up to play North Dakota State in the first match of her freshman year, Vancura waited in the hitting line, adrenaline pumping and thinking about the task at hand.
    “Who wouldn’t be excited for that chance?” Vancura said.
    When it was her turn to hit one last ball before the match began, Vancura went up and attacked like she had done thousands of times before.
    That would be the last ball Vancura would touch for months.
    A designed slide play where she had to go behind the setter, the set was a little off. It wasn’t anything she hadn’t dealt with countless times throughout her career.
    After putting a good swing on the ball, she landed wrong and tore her ACL. She had landed wrong before many times, tweaking an ankle here and there, but this was different, and she knew right away.
    “I just landed wrong and tore that thing apart,” Vancura said.
    Her dream would have to wait.
    “It’s heart-breaking; it doesn’t matter who it is,” Marquette head coach Pati Rolf said. “There’s nothing in life that prepares you for what that means to a student-athlete. It’s a heart-breaking thing to see.”
    Rolf helped carry Vancura off the court and back to the training facilities, and needed a pep talk from then Marquette Athletic Director Steve Cords to re-focus on the match that was about to start.
    “It’s something you never get used to in 20 years of coaching,” Rolf said. “I knew my team loved her and how much she brings to the team out on the floor. It’s a significant loss for this program that she’s not able to play.”
    She rehabbed the knee for months, blending that in with her studies and her commitments to the team.
    “Rehab to me was not too bad,” Vancura said. “It was long and strenuous, but it helped build my character. I appreciate things more. Great things come out of injuries, I swear.”
    Injuries, injuries, injuries
    The knee injury would start a string of medical problems that have earned her that nickname, including two shoulder injuries and two auto accidents.
    “One of them, I wasn’t driving,” Vancura said of the motor vehicle crashes. “Luck was not on my side for a while.”
    The irony is she had never suffered a major injury before her collegiate career began.
    The latest shoulder injury, sustained last month, will require her to have surgery Friday at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Doctors won’t know how bad the current injury is until they open the shoulder up, due to an inconclusive MRI, caused by scar tissue from the previous shoulder injury.
    From there, she won’t be allowed to touch a volleyball for six months while she is rehabilitating another injury.
    That injury will keep her out for what would have been her sophomore season on the court this fall.
    “It’s pretty devastating for her,” Rolf said. “She has had a very difficult and interesting ride here.”
    But, it is going to take more than another injury to keep Vancura’s spirits down.
    “I think she was doing really well handling these things,” Rolf said. “Out of my 20 years coaching, she is probably one of the top two or three most positive kids I have had. She’s so outgoing and positive, just a bright and sunny person.”
    At least that’s what she lets the rest of the world see. She keeps her tears private.
    “I’ve had to cry,” Vancura said. “That’s obvious, because my love and joy is being taken away. Showing that won’t make anybody stronger.”
    By staying upbeat, Vancura has helped eradicate one problem Rolf hasn’t had to deal with.
    “When other kids whine and complain, they (stop),” Rolf said. “They know she would give anything to be where they are. She just continues to be so positive. I’ve never seen someone who handled adversity so well.”
    Personality plus
    Her personality has helped the program in countless ways, including speaking to civic and school groups, and Rolf assigning her to entertain potential recruits. It’s perfect practice for Vancura, who is majoring in public relations. Volleyball has given her the perfect outlet to sharpen her skills well before she sets off into the real world.
    “She’s training me well,” Vancura said of Rolf. “I definitely like dealing with people. I want to be out in the world doing my thing.”
    What the world gets to see is someone who isn’t letting setbacks like major reconstructive surgeries keep her down.
    “My parents did a great job,” Vancura said, describing how she remains so upbeat with all she has been through. “There’s no time to waste feeling sorry for yourself, because there’s always tomorrow. I want to be the rock for my team.”
    Vancura’s recruitment itself was a relatively painless and effortless process as both sides knew that they wanted the other to be part of their lives. She had visited UW-Madison previously, but was overwhelmed with the size of the campus.
    “As soon as I visited Marquette, I knew it was for me,” Vancura said, noting she liked the players, the campus, the coaches, and the facilities.
    With two seasons of injuries, Marquette will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for Vancura. Athletes are normally allowed five years to complete four years of playing, with one year often a red-shirt season to help the student-athlete either with an injury, getting acclimated to college, their studies or just gaining strength.
    “I want to be part of the program and make a contribution,” Vancura said. “Being injured is not the way to do it.”
    She did contribute to the team on the floor last fall, playing in 24 games during the team’s 31 matches, averaging 1.09 kills per game and 0.86 blocks per game.
    “Every game, every point, was like a gift,” Vancura said. “Once you have something taken away, you appreciate it more.”
    This fall, her appreciation will probably grow some more as she deals with another season on the sidelines, but she plans to help the team by shagging balls and keeping score at practice, and doing what is asked of her. It’s just in her make-up.
    As for the string of bad luck she has had?
    “I just find it to be life,” Vancura said. “It’s not bad luck or ironic. Things happen.”
  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Thanks for posting your work for us, 'Train.

    A couple of very quick thoughts this morning.

    - The lede is pretty weak, as explanations almost always are. The piece actually begins "The night of August 26..." Move that up, and the nickname exposition down.

    - You need to detail the moment of the injury: What did it feel like? What did she hear? (Players will generally tell you they can actually hear the 'pop' when they detonate a knee.)

    - Avoid phrases like "alternate nomenclature."

    - In a piece this long, you need to detail some physical characteristics of the subject. All we know about her now is that she's 6'1". What does she sound like? What are the angles of her face like? Her smile? Her gait? Is she graceful? Powerful? Hulking? Lithe? And the elements of her character? Tough? Goofy? Both? Neither? A prankster on the team? A hardass? It's not enough to let the coach describe her as "bright" or "sunny." You get the idea.

    - Too many quotes. You're letting the quotes carry too much of the load here.

    - Check your use of the word "irony."

    - This young lady has what seems to me the worst luck in the world. Detail it.

    - For insight into hard luck sports profiles, buy a copy of What a Time it Was by WC Heinz, and read "The Rocky Road of Pistol Pete."

    Hope this helps. Again, thanks for sharing your work with us.
  3. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    omit needless words.
  4. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    I'll second that:
    When your write, you should omit your use of needless words that do not need to be in your copy.

    See which one works better? :)
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