Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Senior captain Ashtons back injury cant stop her from leading

September 28, 2001
Senior outside hitter Lisa Ashton watches from the sidelines as teammates play against Northwestern last weekend. Ashton is suffering from a herniated disk which may keep her out of the game for the rest of the season. Doctors are not sure how long the injury will take to heal. —

Senior defensive specialist Lisa Ashton had big plans for this season. Her relentless hustle on defense, her work ethic and her leadership were going to be inspirational for her teammates.

What the Spartan volleyball co-captain didn’t plan on giving her teammates was a lesson in vulnerability and optimism.

“Maybe taking a look at me on the sidelines will remind them they aren’t guaranteed four years of play,” Ashton said. “These things happen, so if that helps out, I’m just thinking in every way possible how I can best benefit the team the last three months I’m a part of it.”

Ashton has appeared in only 11 out of 33 games this season due to what she thought was a pair of bulging disks.

But a trip to an orthopedic surgeon Thursday revealed she actually had two herniated discs, a condition with a slower recovery, volleyball athletic trainer Liana Lee said.

The condition will be treated with rest and therapy for now, Lee said.

“We’re just kind of waiting to see how she responds to everything,” she said. “If she can get through daily activity, we’re not looking at surgery or anything.”

And the team has nothing to do but wait, head coach Chuck Erbe said.

“We have to wait - she has a whole life outside of volleyball,” he said. “You just don’t rush into anything with a back injury”

Volleyball has become less of a focus for Ashton and the people treating her, Lee said.

“Our biggest focus is for her to get through her daily activities, like going to class and walking around,” she said. “She needs to go to a movie and be able to be comfortable and right now she is not.”

Ashton said she’s now looking to help the Spartans win in ways that don’t include digs or aces.

“Being on the sidelines, I view my role as a leader being more important because now I can see more things, I can see what’s going on and I think of how I can help out,” she said. “I can’t be a physical contributor to the team, but I certainly can be emotionally and mentally involved with the team.”

Ashton’s roommate and teammate, junior middle blocker Angela Morley said Ashton’s attitude will continue to impact the squad.

“I think she’s had a great attitude about it, and I think she’s trying to find other ways to lead the team, not necessarily on the court, but through encouragement on the sidelines,” she said. “She’s just trying to find ways that she can help the team, and I think she understands her role on the team.”

Lee echoes the sentiment about Ashton’s attitude and personality.

“She’s a great kid and she’s got a great attitude,” Lee said. “No matter whether she’s on the court or not, she’s a huge factor for our team.”

So for now, Ashton has put her athletic goals behind her.

“The last thing I’m thinking about is being some awesome player - it’s deeper than that now,” she said. “It’s about being a leader for them, a person for them and an example.”

Many people wouldn’t deal with the injury as well as Ashton has, Lee said. Ashton credits her Christian faith.

“God’s grace is sufficient for me,” she said. “His strength is made perfect in my weakness. My relationship with God is what has gotten me through this difficulty in my life.

“The main thing I am dwelling on is that I have someone who is going to give me enough strength to get through this. He gives meaning and has a plan for everything that happens to me.”

And although a part of her wishes for the romantic ending - a quick recovery and return to the court - for the most part, Ashton seems adjusted to leading from the bench.

“You think of wanting to have this heroic story of coming back from an injury and being this awesome person who can fight through this,” she said. “But realistically, I don’t think it’s possible, and I don’t think it’s smart.”

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