KOUTS | Moments before the first start of her varsity career, everything went black for Jessica Huycke.
The Kouts junior was warming up for a sectional match when the then-sophomore jumped to hit a ball and felt a sudden pain in her left shoulder that was replaced with an overwhelming feeling of nothing.
“I went into shock,” Huycke said. “Everything went a little blurry, and I was rushed to the hospital.”
What the doctors at Porter Memorial discovered was a dislocated shoulder that required reconstructive surgery that would give way to hours of rehabilitation. None of which was in the plan when Kouts coach Karyl Van Dyke first laid out the season to her talented sophomore.
“I wanted Jessica to play on junior varsity, get that experience and learn how to be a leader,” Van Dyke said. “Some girls would get upset by not being on varsity full time, but Jessica took that and ran with it. I never had to worry about her and when it came time to sectionals, I was anxious. I couldn’t wait to see her start, and she was going to be that secret weapon that no one had seen.”
Huycke recovered from her shoulder injury in time for track season. The hurdler is just three seconds away from a school record, but she concentrated mainly on distance running last season while she was rehabbing her shoulder. She went through the reconstructive surgery with her mind solely focused on volleyball.
“It’s the sport that I love, and it’s what I thought about every day,” Huycke said. “I appreciate the game a lot more now.”
Huycke is in the starting lineup this season as a defensive specialist, limited to the back row while she works her way back from the injury. It’s not the physical pain that is slowing Huycke, but the mental aspect of the game.
“I have held back a little,” Huycke said. “I’m worried about this happening to my other shoulder, but I know I can’t have that type of mindset.”
Van Dyke has seen improvements throughout the year and has set a goal of sectional week for a complete recovery. Huycke knows that it would be fitting if she could shake off every aspect of the injury in time for the postseason.
“I’m looking forward for the chance to almost redeem myself,” Huycke said. “I want to finish what I never got the chance to start.”