GLADE SPRING, Va. (WJHL)- In our new digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Abigail Belcher, a senior on the Patrick Henry volleyball team.
Injuries in sports are just part of the deal.
“Even when she wasn’t playing she was always very supporting and encouraging to everyone else on the court,” Patrick Henry volleyball player Sandy Wright said.
Patrick Henry High School senior volleyball player Abigail Belcher certainly knows that.
“I took advantage of every moment I had on the court because you don’t know when you’re gonna tear something, you don’t know when you’re gonna break something,” Belcher said.
She had a pretty devastating one herself.
“I went up for an outside hit in warm-ups and when I landed it went in and tore,” Belcher said.
She tore her meniscus in her left knee, which ended her sophomore season early.
“Yeah I had to have surgery, I think the 2nd semester of my sophomore year,” Belcher said. “I tried to recover without surgery and they went back and did more scans and they’re like yeah it’s torn and you’re gonna have surgery.”
She tore it so bad it couldn’t even be repaired; it had to be completely removed.
“It was really scary, I thought that I was never gonna be able to play as good as I wanted to be but I think that as bad it was it made me a better player,” Belcher said.
An injury this serious can take athletes a year to recover, sometimes even longer.
“I had to put in a lot of extra time, I was always in the weight room, or like my coach said putting extra time in the gym just to make sure I was good to go for games and stuff,” Belcher said.
She was back on the court in eight months.
“At first I was kinda scared that I was gonna tear it again, but then it felt really good, it was great,” Belcher said.
She knew she had to take the rehab in her own hands, pushing herself to another level.
“Well when they told me to do rehab and stuff they said that lifting would help a lot and I think that motivated me to get in the weight room and work harder and every time my knee hurt it made want to get better and work harder to get where I needed to be,” Belcher said.
And just like that, she returned to the court with her teammates.
“I could almost pinpoint this time when there was this light bulb moment that it clicked for her and she’s like OK this is where I’m at and this is what I need to do,” head coach Pam Newberry said.
“It’s like she never left, just because of her presence was always there having her back on the court made us a stronger team in general but emotionally and just together as a team we were even stronger when she came back,” Wright said.
She just wanted to be back out there, to be a part of making history.
Winning the school’s first ever state title was a massive moment for this team. Now they’re in prime position to win a second one.
“We’re clicking pretty solid right now, everyone is stepping up to the plate and doing a really good job so we’re in a really good place coming into the night,” Newberry said.
Leading the way is their senior captain, who’s just happy to be back
“It made me appreciate everything a lot more actually, I wanted to play harder and I wanted to play more,” Belcher said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.