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Bouncing back…Stotesbury returns

MERRY HILL – A wise man once said, it’s not how you act, it’s how you react.

That being the case, Debbie Stotesbury has proven her character in the way she has reacted.

A three-sport athlete throughout her prep career at Lawrence Academy, Stotesbury suffered a season-ending injury last spring n one that threatened her entire career.

“I slid into third base and my ankle got struck in the dirt,” Stotesbury said. “The two bones separated out of joint above my ankle and caused the tendons to break apart.

“It started getting weak during basketball,” she said. “I knew something was going to happen, but it lasted until softball.”

The injury caused Stotesbury to undergo surgery where she had a plate and five screws inserted into the ankle.

“I had never been used to being without sports and it let me down when it happened,” she said. “I didn’t know if I would be able to play anymore.”

The successful surgery meant Stotesbury would be able to return to the playing courts and fields of Lawrence Academy and came as a welcomed relief.

“They told me that if we did the surgery, my ankle wouldn’t keep me from doing anything I wanted to do,” she said. “I would be able to return to playing sports, but I have to wear a brace to keep from turning it.”

Stotesbury, who is preparing for the 2008 volleyball season, began by training this summer on her own.

“I’ve been running one or two miles per day trying to keep the muscles strong,” she said. “I’ve also been using the rubber bands they gave me during therapy to increase mobility.”

As she prepares for the volleyball season, Stotesbury is getting ready for a sport that is both her favorite and the one in which she has tasted the most success.

Twice during her prep career she has been on teams that finished as Tarheel Independent Conference champions and advanced to the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) playoffs.

Last year she was named All-Tarheel Independent Conference and All-Tournament during the season-ending TIC tourney.

“We had a really good year last season,” she said. “We were able to win the conference and finish second in the conference tournament. Then we made the Final Four in the NCISAA.”

Stotesbury said she is now focused on getting ready for this season and, hopefully, having another strong finish.

“We want to win the conference again and reach the state tournament,” she said.

She said she is looking forward to carrying on the tradition the Lady Warriors have developed over the past several years.

“It feels good to have been a part of it,” Stotesbury said. “I want to continue what has been done in the past and try to accomplish big things this year.”

While she is excited about the possibilities that are in front of her during her senior season, Stotesbury admitted she will be a little apprehensive during the season-opening match at Bear Grass on August 19.

“I think everyone’s a littler nervous their first match,” she said. “As the game goes on, though, I’ll get used to it.”

Stotesbury said she still notices the injury because of some tightness in her muscles, but she believes the ankle holds up better than it did before the surgery.

“When you’re a setter, it does take its toll on your ankles, but I’m not worried because I can handle that,” she said.

Stotesbury’s coach for the past three seasons, Dr. Ed Clouse, said he was very concerned when he heard of her injury.

“My first concern, of course, was for Debbie,” Dr. Clouse said. “The spring is where everything comes together for academics and I knew she would have to miss school so I was concerned for her.

“I was also hoping that she would be able to recover from the injury with no ill affects,” he added.

He said he was pleased with what he had seen from her athletically during summer workouts.

“It’s tough when your starting setter and only senior is coming back from injury because I’m looking for a lot of leadership from her,” Dr. Clouse said.

The coach said Stotesbury’s movement straight ahead had been good, but she had been a little tentative in her lateral movement.

“My only worry is that Debbie will try to hide the pain and play through it when she should come out, especially in the early part of the year,” he said.

Dr. Clouse said he was counting on Stotesbury to be more of a vocal leader since she was the only senior on the team.

“This year I want her to be more vocal rather than just leading by example as she has in the past,” he said. “I want her to talk to the younger kids, pull them aside, and explain things to them.”

Stotesbury officially began practice yesterday (Monday) and plans to be back in the starting lineup when the Lady Warriors take the floor for the first time August 19.