The Maroon

Column: Yesenia Davis comes back to track

Biology+junior+Yesenia+Davis+ruptured+her+Achilles+tendon+March+25%2C+2017+at+a+track+meet+at+the+University+of++Montevallo.+Davis+spent+over+a+year+rehabilitating+from+the+injury.+Photo+credit%3A+Julia+Santos
Biology junior Yesenia Davis ruptured her Achilles tendon March 25, 2017 at a track meet at the University of  Montevallo. Davis spent over a year rehabilitating from the injury. Photo credit: Julia Santos

Biology junior Yesenia Davis ruptured her Achilles tendon March 25, 2017 at a track meet at the University of Montevallo. Davis spent over a year rehabilitating from the injury. Photo credit: Julia Santos

Biology junior Yesenia Davis ruptured her Achilles tendon March 25, 2017 at a track meet at the University of Montevallo. Davis spent over a year rehabilitating from the injury. Photo credit: Julia Santos


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On March 25, 2017, while competing in the women’s high jump competition at the University of Montevallo, I completely ruptured my left Achilles tendon. I heard a loud pop and started thinking that my sole of high jump spikes had broken off because my foot felt light. When I looked down I could see an indentation where my achilles was supposed to be but no longer was.

I immediately began to scream and fell to the ground. My coach, Nick Dodson, as well as the assistant coach for a rival team rushed over to me and picked me up. They took me over to the trainers, who told me it was going to be alright but I had to calm down. I knew that I had torn my Achilles before they even said it. As I finally began to calm down, my teammates came over one by one to check on me and each told me, “it’s going to be alright and we’re going to be running these races today and the rest of the season for you.” I felt as though I had let my teammates down. Earlier that week, Coach Dodson and I had talked about how I would have to compete in the 400-meter hurdles as well as my usual events, which are high jump and 100-meter hurdles, for the women’s team to have a shot at winning the SSAC conference title. In 2016, I had won the women’s high jump conference title and would not get a chance to defend my title. All offseason, I had been working extremely hard just for this unfortunate injury to happen. It all really hit me that my season was over after the doctor showed me the MRI of my leg. I remember coming back from the doctor with my mom and going to tell Coach Dodson that the MRI confirmed that I had completely ruptured my left Achilles. We both broke down in tears.

I had surgery on March 30, 2017 and went home for a couple of weeks to recuperate from surgery. While home, I had a hard time coping with the fact that my season was really over. I felt like I did not want to run anymore or even want to watch another meet. I did not want to be reminded of my injury or the fact that I could not compete. One day, a friend of mine, Benjamin Fields, who had also ruptured his left Achilles a few months prior, asked how I was doing. I responded, “I feel okay” and he asked, “Okay like how?” and I said, “I don’t have any pain anymore, I’m still pretty upset about the injury though.” What he said next has stuck with me.

Through my whole journey to recovery, he said, “you can’t be upset. You can’t do anything to change it but get better.” He was right, I couldn’t let this hurdle in my life cause me to give up. I’ve been running over hurdles in races for several years and now it was time to run over this hurdle that this injury had placed in my life. When I got my stitches taken out and came back to school my trainer, Ken Faldetta, and I immediately started therapy.

At first, I could only do small things like try to move my foot. Ken and I set small goals for me. The first goal was to get motion back in my foot, then the next big goal was to get out of the boot but to be able to do that I would have to be able to walk comfortably enough without it. This goal was accomplished while I was at home during the summer. It took a while for this to happen. I finally was able to take my first steps without the boot since surgery on July 14, 2017. It was only a few steps but these were huge steps in my recovery. When I came back to school to start my junior year, Ken and I picked up therapy where we left off. There were a lot of things that we had to work on and Ken didn’t go easy on me. I’m glad that he didn’t, I needed that push. Gradually therapy became more like track practice and strength training. I would go to therapy five times a week for sometimes up to two hours but it was necessary if I planned on getting back to the track.

As I worked to get back to the track, Coach Dodson and I had a lot of conversations about how I could do this and that the team needed me if we were going to have a shot at winning the conference championship. This pushed me even more. Although I wasn’t able to practice with my teammates, I made sure I was present at as many practices, weight lifting sessions and all of the meets to support my teammates. Seeing them work hard made me want to work hard. I officially returned to the track on February 7, 2018. I tried to keep it a secret to surprise my teammates but Coach Dodson seemed to be more excited about my return than me and couldn’t wait to tell my teammates. Coach Dodson made sure not to rush me into anything too quickly and risk re-injury. It was very important that I felt comfortable getting back into the swing of things. I’ll admit that I was nervous getting back into everything but I was also excited.

I had been working for this since all year. I competed in my first meet since my injury on March 30, 2018 at the University of South Alabama which was exactly a year since my surgery and a year and five days since my injury occurred. I was nervous but I knew I had to get back out there and I couldn’t be scared. I had to trust myself and all the therapy I had done up until that point. I competed both in 100-meter hurdles and high jump and did alright for my first meet back. I knew that I would be okay going forward.

I competed at Southeastern Louisiana University and jumped five feet which was a huge milestone and dropped three seconds from my hurdle time as well as ran the 400-meter hurdle race. I felt like I was back to my old self at this point and was ready for the conference championships the next week. I just knew that this was going to be the year that we won the championship and that I would reclaim my high jump title. At the conference meet, I competed in high jump first. I cleared 1.50 meters and was attempting 1.55 meters when I injured my right Achilles. This was the only event I got to compete in at conference. Although I wasn’t able to help my teammates on the track, I made sure I was there for them the rest of the meet. I made sure everyone’s minds were in the right place and cheered everyone through their events. I had been in this situation before and knew that my teammates still needed me. I found out that I partially tore my right Achilles but I know I can overcome this injury again and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

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