On the road to recovery

There is nothing Erin Failor yearns for more than to be physically present on the volleyball court.

"It’s difficult, but I’m excited to watch the other girls play," Failor says.

Injury, the inescapable and unavoidable enemy, is an issue that all athletes must face at one time or another. Erin Failor, a member of our Falcon women’s volleyball squad, is certainly no stranger to this foe.

The reason for her absence is an injury due to herniated and bulging cartilage disks in her backbone. Back problems are not new to Failor. The pain and discomfort dates back to five years ago. The reason for her cure not coming any sooner is because many doctors in the past have been baffled by Erin’s condition.

For the most part, they have tended to think that her back pains were due to joint problems. During this time, she has also tried numerous alternative medicines and treatments including chiropractors. However, nothing worked. After a conclusive analysis in the last month, her current doctor discovered that she had bulging disks.

This would mean that she would be required to have back surgery and would return at the end of the season at the best. Because of this operation, she had to stay home while the team moved on without her.

Nothing can couple with the mental agony and physical pain that an injury creates.

Failor, originally from Milwaukie High School in Milwaukie, Ore., has been competing in SPU volleyball for four years and organized volleyball for the past 10 years. To say the least, this sport has played a major role in her life. Additionally, she has led the team in blocks for the last two years and has been an outstanding leader.

"Erin contributed greatly to the team physically as a blocker and a hard worker; she has a steady presence on the court," says coach JoAnn Atwell-Scrivner.

Failor’s presence on the court is sorely missed by her teammates. Although Failor did not consider herself a star player in high school, she feels that she definitely made an impact on the team mentally and emotionally.

To not be around her teammates has been hard on Failor. However, she is feeling great now even though her doctor will not let her participate physically in the team for the rest of the season.

"I feel a little bit of sadness, but nothing overwhelming," Failor says when asked of the emotions she feels when walking onto the volleyball court since the injury.

Although volleyball has played a major role in Failor’s life for the past decade, she no longer plans to pursue it further than her college career. She plans to concentrate solely on her studies of biochemistry. Currently, her plans for the future include taking a year off from school and then attending medical school.

Throughout this time of memories, she holds a few precious times close to her heart. The foremost of these is when she went to the Fairbanks Invitational during her freshman season.

During one particular moment, Failor was close to the net and the ball was served. The ball was hit back and forth, and then suddenly as the ball came sailing across the net towards her, Failor said that she achieved the dream of all volleyball players.

She spiked the ball upon a player of the opposite team with such a tremendous force that it made her opponent fall down to the ground. To add to the humor of the situation, the ball hit her opponent on the head, upon which it bounced back over the net where Failor hit it again and bounced off the same girl and finally out of bounds, giving our Falcon squad the point.

On Oct. 9, the volleyball team faced Hawaii Pacific, the second ranked NCAA Division II team. Failor, who was forced to sit on the sidelines for the game, bravely walked onto the court with a sad smile and a confident stride.

While the team was introduced, she stepped forward and waved to the crowd. Even though she could not play, Failor stood for the entirety of the game, supporting her teammates and cheering them on. The team ended up losing, even with a couple of close and intense matches. Despite the loss of this important game, Failor’s attitude remained upbeat.

"The girls played awesome. They were just a hard team," she says.

Reflecting on her athletic career, Failor emphasizes on how quickly time passed by and how she wished she could tell incoming freshmen to take advantage of every moment you’re on that court. Nothing lasts forever.

Failor also thinks that often people lose sight of their original goal throughout the countless practices, matches and road trips. It is doubtful that many professional athletes could have gotten to their position without passion for the love of the game in the first place.

Many athletes have found that when your team loses a game and you’re on the sidelines because of injury many questions come to surface. You may find yourself thinking, "If I was in, would I make a difference?" or "Maybe we would’ve won, if I hadn’t gotten injured."

In response to these types of feelings Failor responded, "No, no I don’t feel that way at all. I still feel like I am a part of the team."

The best advice Failor believes that she can give is to hold your head high no matter what happens and to never give up. Without exception, everybody has his or her bad moments, days, seasons and years. It’s just a matter of how they handle themselves and what they choose to do now that they are on the sidelines, literally or figuratively.

Failor firmly believes that all athletes instead of being another injured player on the sidelines, should instead be a leader on and off the court.

If anything, Failor believes she has become stronger because of her trials and tribulations. She feels absolutely no guilt or regrets that may often plague other athletes.

"You learn to deal and take them as they come. You have to rely on God to take you where to be," she says.

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Title: On the road to recovery | Author: David Denniston | Section: Sports | Published Date: 1999-10-27 | Internal ID: 840