Digging deep

Senior volleyball player recovers from injury, focuses on mental game

When she landed, she both heard and felt a pop. She was unsure what happened but immediately knew it was not good. Senior Micayla Polasek went up for a ball during a volleyball match and did a full backbend before coming back down to the floor. 

What doctors initially thought was a season-ending fracture in her back was just a severe, but recoverable reinjury.

“Missing so many games sucked a lot, but that only meant that I could be there on the bench for my team to support them emotionally from the sidelines,” Micayla said. “They told me that they appreciated my energy on the bench and how much I encouraged and was there for them.”

Although watching her daughter suffer through an injury was difficult, Micayla’s mother, Laura Polasek, said she thinks Micayla also learned several valuable lessons.

“As a mother, it was devastating to watch her struggle through being benched mentally because she is the hype man for her team and she pours so much passion into everything that she does,” Mrs. Polasek said. “To watch her have to be strong mentally and overcome the obstacle was both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I also got to see her grow and mature even more through those struggles.”

Micayla’s persistent encouragement from the bench is an invaluable asset to the team according to head volleyball coach Kayli Kane.

“Micayla’s a leader physically and verbally,” Kane said. “She’s so positive and uplifting and she is always our go-to girl whenever we need somebody. She’s the one grabbing people and pulling them into the huddle.”

Once Micayla recovered from her injury, she still faced a few difficulties after being out for so many games.

“It meant the world to me to be able to come back before district started,” Micayla said. “It meant a lot both mentally and physically for everyone to support me throughout the healing process and I learned that it is important to take care of yourself.”

Through the entire process of recovery, Micayala said the most difficult part was how long it took to get back on the court and let herself heal to avoid reinjuring her back.  

I think the most difficult part for Micayla was being patient,” Mrs. Polasek said. “Just having patience and waiting and knowing that everything is going to come in due time and letting it happen was a struggle.”

Teammate junior Carmella Jones has played volleyball with Micayla for years and has seen her develop as a player and become one of the best motivators on and off the court.

“Micayla has grown as a player, not just skill-wise but also understanding the game and developing her character,” Carmella said. “I’ve been playing with Micayla for a long time now, and she has always had a powerful swing, but as we got older she has developed into a key role on the team.”

Being a part of a team is not just about what happens on the court; it is about the mental and emotional game as well.

“Micayla is a great leader and a smart player on the court,” Carmella said. “While she was out with her injury, she kept the energy high throughout the entire game each night even though she wasn’t playing.”

Micayla’s mom is proud of the dedication and consistency Micayla learned and exhibited throughout her injury.

I think the biggest thing Micayla learned is that even though she wasn’t able to be on the court and wasn’t able to be an asset on the team physically, she was still able to transition her role into being the cheerleader, the positive influencer, the encourager,” Mrs. Polasek said. “She learned how to maintain her leadership role by shifting and adapting.”