Column: Playing through the pain

by Sean Ellertson

When Kelsey Hausman crashed to the Bubble floor on February 28th, 2014, during volleyball practice, she knew it was bad. Hausman, a sophomore at the time, had felt the feeling before: a sharp pain in her knee. This time, it was the left one.

“I just came down on one leg, my left leg, my entire knee shifted leftward, out of place,” said Hausman. “I can still kind of remember the exact moment in my mind, it’s like a paused moment. I can see it in my mind and just pause on it.”

Hausman first fell in love with the sport of volleyball when her father took her to the NCAA Championships in 2006, to watch her home state Nebraska Cornhuskers defeat Stanford.

“I saw these girls just running after this volleyball, like laying their bodies out on the floor, just giving everything they had in this game,” said Hausman. “That’s just the moment I fell in love with volleyball.”

(Photo: Joel Torres)

After moving from Nebraska to Utah, Hausman continued to play.

However, in her junior year, Hausman tore her right ACL. The injury forced her to miss the rest of her junior year, and recruiting classes filled up.

Eventually, an email came from Franklin Pierce head coach Stephanie Dragan, and shortly after, Hausman committed to the Ravens.

“Everything about this place was so much different from what I had known and that’s what I loved about it,” said Hausman. “I got this great sense of community at Franklin Pierce.”

And just two years later, Hausman was on the floor in the Bubble, in the fetal position, hugging her knee, and swearing every word in the book. The sport that had inspired her, captured her emotions and let Hausman compete at one of the highest levels, suddenly took it all away.

After tests and an MRI, trainers and doctors confirmed a torn ACL and tear of both meniscuses in the left knee. No denial phase- just anger and emotion filled Hausman.

Hausman waited until summer to have surgery to focus strictly on rehab.

“For all I knew anything had gone fine,” said Hasuman. “But my issue has been scar tissue.”

While rehabbing at school, Hausman was sometimes left on her own, without direction to complete her drills.

“I regard everyone in the athletic training so highly, and I love all of them and appreciate what they do so much, but at the same time I didn’t get the attention I needed,” said Hausman.

During her junior year, Hausman was named a team captain despite not being able to play. Despite the accomplishment, she started to feel depressed. The stress of her classes and watching her teammates play without her drove her crazy.

The pain was becoming unbearable. Hausman lost her appetite and lost weight. Hausman eventually gave up her athletic scholarship.

“It got to a point where I all I wanted was to just get better.”

And over time, it did get better.

By the end of her summer, prior to senior year, finally some good news. Hausman could try to play volleyball, despite giving up her scholarship. Hausman helped the team out in practices, slowly getting more comfortable with passing, setting up teammates and scrimmaging.

“I was hesitant, but I also at the same time felt as though I didn’t really have much to lose,” said Hausman. “It was kind of the first time I that I actually felt joy come back to me.”

Eventually, Dragan asked her to suit up, with the guarantee of playing time in the upcoming tournament.

“I thought about how this program was the reason I came here in the first place. This team is the reason I’m here and how much I would have just loved to play again,” Hausman said.

She decided to play.

Hausman had dreamed of playing with her teammates for over a year, and wanted the feeling of celebrating with her teammates after a point.

“I got that moment at the Wilmington tournament. And that was just a surge of elation,” said Hausman.

Hausman played sparingly for the rest of the season and rode the bench as a senior. She was not her former self, with limited jumping ability and mobility. However, she was able to suit up one final time on senior day.

Hausman has had three scar tissue surgeries on her left knee since the injury, but it keeps coming back. Her left leg still doesn’t completely straighten, causing her pelvis to rotate and leading to back problems.

“Just getting better is all I want in this world.”

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