mainmbutimelinelogo-copy
  • Home
  • Sports
  • Pursuing Hope After Career-Ending Injuries

Pursuing Hope After Career-Ending Injuries

Missouri Baptist University lacrosse goalkeeper Alexis Womble has been forced to support her team from the sidelines as too many concussions and other various injuries have led her doctors to recommend she no longer play the sport she loves most. And the MBU senior is exhibiting mature Christian faith in how she deals with the setback.

Photo by Stacy Rohan

Alexis Womble keeps a contagious smile on her face even though she is no longer able to protect the goal she has been used to guarding as a lacrosse player for several years, as she has learned to “let go and let God.”

__________________________________________________

Collegiate athletes face injuries of varying severities every day, and while many injuries allow athletes an eventual return to activity, Missouri Baptist University senior Alexis Womble lost her lacrosse career completely after enduring several traumatic brain injuries.

Womble, an information technology major from New York, suffered her first concussion in high school, marking the beginning of a treacherous journey with pain, and not only to her head.

“I also threw out my back my senior year of high school,” Womble said. “I came to Missouri Baptist, started to have more back issues and I found out through an MRI that I have two bulging discs and a tear in one of them. My freshman year was filled with therapy and treatments.”

To make matters worse, she ended her freshman year with mononucleosis, and started her sophomore year with mono symptoms again.

Having already missed out on several lacrosse competitions due to injury, Womble lost her last glimpse of hope when she sustained another concussion at her second practice back in November 2017, in her sophomore season.

“It happened because I have no awareness of the space around me so I slammed my head into a piece of metal while weight lifting,” Womble said. “Since that initial hit, I’ve hit my head nearly a dozen times doing various things.”

Growing up, Womble moved around frequently with her family, playing on two competitive lacrosse teams, one in Utah and one in California.

She was competing in a lacrosse tournament in California when former MBU women’s lacrosse coach Amanda Sullivan noticed her and offered a scholarship on the spot.

Seeing Womble’s experience with injury her first two years at MBU, Sullivan said, “Alexis handled her injuries with more strength than many athletes would’ve been able to. She continued to support the team and program through a very difficult time in her life. She never hid in the background but instead flourished into a new role on the team that was just as important as any.”

Concussions include an array of symptoms, but Womble experienced mostly headaches, memory loss and vestibular issues.

Womble said in dealing with her concussions, she was prescribed medications that repeatedly failed to improve her conditions, and she went through multiple different therapies.

Athletic trainer Lindsey Knapp, who treats athletes with concussions on a regular basis, said they are her least favorite injury to deal with.

“Concussions are not black and white like sprains, strains and fractures. They are a very gray area. I physically cannot open someone’s skull and peak inside to see what is going on,” Knapp explained. “I have to rely on a paper test we utilize in order to return athletes back into play.”

At the start of Womble’s junior year, she still had hope of playing again as she was introduced to the potentiality of becoming a field player, rather than playing goalie like she had played in the past.

“A month later, after many visits to the doctor, both my coach and my doctor told me I should not play again,” Womble said. “I was still experiencing memory loss and severe headaches, and it had been nearly a year since the concussion.”

Womble said she initially felt hurt, angry and generally upset at the situation, but she turned to her dad for advice and encouragement.

“He pretty much told me straight up that I needed to see this from a different perspective. That I had a brain injury and that I could not afford to have another injury like this in the long run. If I were to go play and have another concussion, it would do even worse damage to my brain which could cause severe, long-lasting issues,” said Womble, who ultimately had to choose her health over her love for lacrosse.

Sullivan knows through years of coaching that athletes who suffer season- or career-ending injuries often deal with feeling as though they have lost their identity.

“Being forced to stop participating in a sport that has been a part of your life as long as lacrosse has been in Alexis’ is never easy,” Sullivan said.

After accepting and grieving the loss, Womble said she knew she had to decide what she was going to do next in response to her circumstance.

She fought against feelings of loneliness and misunderstanding but said everyone around her has been supportive in some way.

MBU alumna Lauren Gentry, a roommate of Womble, said she has always and will always be there for Womble in her times of hardship.

“Alexis knows she has many friends and family to support her through this injury and through any aspect of her life,” Gentry said. “Alexis’ injuries will only make her stronger. It is tough getting through any injury, and it has been a journey, but Alexis has grown from this experience and has learned more about others and herself.”

Womble said this experience has taught her to have patience, to be more kind and understanding and more equipped to help others.

“At one point, I hit an all-time low when I was prescribed antidepressants for my headaches. Going through that really taught me to count the small blessings in life and to be more positive. Life is a beautiful gift given to us by God and we all need to be more cherishing of it,” Womble said.

Assistant Coach Terra Ringo, who works closely with the goalies on the team, said although she misses coaching Womble on the field, she’s proud to see her optimistic response and the ways she still contributes to the program.

“Her insight and goalie wisdom has been so helpful to this team, especially to the other goalies,” Ringo said. “She’s even helped me grow as a goalie coach. She’s taught me how to see things I wouldn’t normally see and given me advice from the player’s prospective. Even though she can’t be on the field, she’s still a key part of the team. Her strength through all of this is inspiring.”

Womble works each day to stay positive, and despite the reality that her days on the lacrosse field are over, she knows there are still plenty of ways to contribute and better her teammates.

“I can bring a lot of lacrosse knowledge and now that I see the field from a different view, I can bring a lot of tips for both field players and goalies,” Womble said. “I can also give love and support for my team by traveling with them, talking with them, adding some motivation occasionally, and even keeping stats for them.”

Regardless of the hardships one might endure, Womble wants to advise students to “let go and let God.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Stacy Rohan

Stacy Rohan

Stacy Rohan is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. Majoring in journalism with a psychology minor, Rohan is a member of the MBU lacrosse team and also coaches lacrosse part-time at Westminster Christian Academy. Stacy holds many goals for her future, but publishing a novel and coaching a college lacrosse team are at the top of her list.

@mbutimeline

About MBU Timeline

MBU

DID YOU KNOW?
   
Here are some interesting facts about MBU Timeline, the student news network of Missouri Baptist University.
   
*The WordPress site has been up since late-fall 2013. We average about 3,000 sessions and about 5,000 pageviews per month.
   
*Our stories and galleries get as few as 40 or 50 hits, or as many as 8,000 hits.
   
*We have readers in every state and 93 countries around the world. We have several readers in Brazil, the United Kingdom, India and Australia.
   
*Most of our readers are in Missouri, followed by Illinois, California and Texas.
   
*We do not accept advertising as we are a not-for-profit online newsmagazine.
   
*Our mission statement is: MBU Timeline is the student news network of Missouri Baptist University, a private Christian university that embraces the essential core value of “social change through service and leadership.”
   
*The Bible verse that drives our mission is 2 Timothy 2:15 (Worldwide English Version): “Tell the true message in the right way.”
   
*We welcome contributors from all walks of MBU life, regardless of your major. Contact us at: mbutimeline@mobap.edu.

Instagram

Loading...