[This is my column in the Aug. 28 issue of The Commercial Review.]
I couldn’t help but smile when I saw her on the court.
As I walked into the Jay County High School gym Aug. 14 to shoot photos of the volleyball scrimmage between the Patriots and South Adams Starfires, one of the first things I did was try to spot Morgan Alberson on the court.
I heard she was playing again, but I had to see for myself.
I couldn’t believe it, seeing as nearly four months earlier she had been seriously injured.
But there she was, playing as if nothing ever happened.
While her recollections of that late April day may be in bits and pieces, such is not the case for me. I felt just as involved in the play as she and her teammate Alyssa Bluhm were, and all I did was take pictures.
Pictures that, as it turns out, helped give Alberson’s doctors a more clear idea as to what happened on that life-changing spring evening.
The photo sequence — her and Bluhm chasing after the ball, the two of them colliding, what appears to be a serious knee injury and Morgan falling back and slamming her head on the ground — is something I will take with me for the rest of my life.
When I first glanced at the photos that chilly Wednesday, my initial reaction was that she had injured her left knee. It was bent in ways that would appear as if multiple ligaments were shredded.
I later found out news I never wanted to hear.
I captured Morgan breaking her neck on camera.
I’m proud of the series of action photos I got, but the circumstances left a guilty feeling in my gut.
Which is why I had to see first-hand the Starfire sophomore back on the court where she belongs.
I ended up getting more than I bargained for that day.
Jeromy, Morgan’s father, spotted me from the crowd and came over to introduce himself to me. I had spoken with his wife Kim on the phone, but had never met either of them in person.
It was then that I asked them if I could write a story about Morgan’s recovery, and we started talking.
“The doctor said (she was) done with sports,” Kim said.
Jeromy chimed in, “I think Kim thought forever. He said her softball season was done and her club volleyball season was done, but then we would go from there.”
After hearing about the severity of her injury, I wasn’t sure she’d ever play again.
I had the same reaction as her and her parents. Our first thought was paralysis.
But seven games into her sophomore season, Morgan has been a crucial part of the South Adams volleyball team’s 5-2 record. She tallied a season-high 13 kills in a win Tuesday over Eastbrook. She also added three blocks and a dozen digs.
One of the perks of this job has definitely been the opportunity to meet amazing people.
One of the downsides, though, is seeing some of those same struggle immediately following potentially serious injuries.
Seeing Morgan on the court a few weeks ago — I’ll get another chance Sept. 23 when South Adams comes back to Jay County — was a relief for me in knowing she had made a full recovery.
It’s not very often someone so young can go through a horrible experience and have the result end up so favorably.
Seeing her on the court again doing what she loves will always put that smile on my face.