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Saturday, early December 2012. Auxiliary Court 3. Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois. The last match of the day’s tournament had finally come to an end, and I lay cowering on the court in eye-watering pain. The nature of my agony perfectly matched our team’s performance: we had struggled to win but a single game of the three that we had played that morning. Our coach, who also happened to be the director of the entire volleyball program, was far past the point of purple-veined vitriol, and could scarcely even muster the energy to dole out his trademark squinty-eyed glares of contemptuous disappointment. But none of that mattered to me at the moment, because I knew that something was horribly wrong with my legs.
Later that day, I made a visit to my family doctor, who confirmed what I had been dreading for months. I had developed severe tendinitis in both of my knees. I had to quit volleyball completely, which meant that my participation in the upcoming spring school season was also terminated. But that was just the beginning. I went to weekly physical therapy sessions for about five months; I am still recuperating today.
Despite all that, I don’t see my injury as some devastating handicap. By approaching the whole fiasco with a positive attitude, I soon found that my newly-allotted free time allowed me to focus more intensely on the important things in my life, such as my studies and my family. It also led to the cultivation of my love of physics, for which I am very grateful. I could not play volleyball, but I could certainly delve into the intricacies of momentum and velocity that are the lifeblood of the game. If anything, my experience showed me how easy it can be to turn negatives into positives, that there may be much to value in such consequential events as career-ending knee injuries. They may be difficult to recognize at first, but beautiful things can certainly come in banged-up packages.
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