Placer volleyball player Lauren Collins overcomes ACL, meniscus tearsBy: Matthew Kimel / Auburn Journal
Lauren Collins recalls hearing a pop.
Her junior varsity Lady Hillmen volleyball team was playing at Bear River. She fell down on her knee and her body twisted the wrong way.
“I went straight down and I was screaming,” said Collins, who was a sophomore at the time. “... It hurt so bad. I remember I was at the Bear River place and the crowd was laughing.”
With the game being just down Highway 49, Collins’ whole family was in the audience. They weren’t among those laughing as they watched their loved one collapse with a serious injury.
That same week happened to be homecoming. Collins would end up going to the dance on crutches. She didn’t know at the time that she had torn her right meniscus and anterior cruciate ligaments, so she danced the night away.
The next week an MRI confirmed Collins’ injuries, which put her plans to be a starter on the Lady Hillmen basketball team on hold.
She thought her sports-playing days were over. And for an athlete who plays basketball and volleyball in clubs and on a high school team, that wasn’t easy to cope with.
“Sports are my life,” she said. “I had nothing to do. I was so sad.”
Collins spent the next year rehabbing and had difficulty dealing with the fact that she couldn’t play sports to her full capability.
She even had a setback.
During physical therapy she tore her meniscus a second time during a lunge. She was about a month away from recovering from her injury.
“That was so hard,” she said. “It put me back like three months. And then I had to recover again after that.”
Even after Collins finished rehabilitating, she wasn’t quite herself.
“My junior year was horrible,” said Collins, who split time playing as an outside hitter on the varsity team as an 11th-grader. “You get really low in confidence. My knee would hurt after practices and what not. I wasn’t as good.”
Placer volleyball coach Jennifer Wright also noticed Collins was a little down on herself.
“She got her surgery and started rehabbing and had a focus,” the coach said. “She just wanted to come back. Last year during tryouts she was really nervous and thought she wasn’t good enough. I knew she wasn’t at where she could be, but she still deserved to make the team.”
This past summer Collins, now a senior at Placer High, pushed herself as she wanted to go out with a bang in her senior year.
“This whole summer I dedicated myself to volleyball and summer league basketball,” she said. “I’d go everyday, five days a week and play volleyball and workout and work on my vertical. Everyday I’d play in grass and sand volleyball tournaments. I really improved from the summer.”
Collins’ hard work is finally paying off, as she’s a major player this year on a top-notch Lady Hillmen squad. With Collins recording a ton of kills as the outside hitter, Placer is off to a 5-1 start this season. The Lady Hillmen were handed their first loss Monday to Rocklin, 25-23, 12-25, 25-20, 25-18.
“During the off-season she worked really hard … and wanted to come in during her senior year and be a leader,” Wright said. “So far she’s done that for us and it’s been awesome. She’s a key player for us and we’re glad she’s back.”
Collins hopes to continue playing volleyball in the future.
“Hopefully in college, if I get into college, I might play club volleyball,” she said.
“Hopefully either volleyball or basketball.”
Either way, she’s glad to be back out on the court.
Said Collins: “I’m so happy I worked hard at it so I could have a senior year being back into it.”
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel