One of the first rules of hockey Sara Sherman had to learn is how to play “heads-up” hockey. You can’t focus on the puck you’re handling. You have to keep looking forward.
That rule became essential to Sherman’s life in February 2010 when a traumatic brain injury changed everything. And now, through living a “heads-up” lifestyle, she has become a member of the 2012 MSU Homecoming court.
The kinesiology senior suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was hit by an opposing player in a game against University of Wisconsin, playing for MSU Women’s Ice Hockey Team. She said after multiple days of slowed speech, trouble reading, moving her hands and dizziness, a friend brought her to the hospital. She learned her brain was swollen and bleeding, and her doctor suggested she take a year or two off school and quit hockey. She said no.
“(With a) normal student that does surprise me, because I think a normal student would jump at the chance to get out of school, but knowing Sara, that doesn’t surprise me,” said Justin Bland, an assistant professor at Harding University in Arkansas and a former MSU teaching assistant. “She’s tenacious.”
Harding said following her accident, Sherman out-performed many fellow students. However, Sherman said many grades from that semester had to be dropped and she learned through brain scans she had dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD.
“There was definitely a period of denial … like ‘I cant believe this is happening to me. Why me?’” Sherman said, adding she was angry and frustrated with the situation and her inability to be active. “After a while, with the help of family and friends and the people upstairs, I was able to come to the realization that somehow this was supposed to happen to me.”
And since that realization, she hasn’t slowed down. Sherman, who played five sports in high school and already was involved with student government and more, now continues to play several intramural sports, participate in several clubs, work at a center for children with disabilities and is vice president of her club hockey team.
After dealing with flashbacks to her accident her first time back on the ice, Sherman plays a bit more cautiously and wears an extra-protective helmet. In 2011, she helped her hockey team win the National Championship.
“She is the kind of player that every coach hopes to have,” Jeff Wilson, club team head coach said of the girl many describe as endlessly positive and inspirational.
Now as a member of the 12-person 2012 Homecoming Court, Sherman will have the chance to ride in the homecoming parade and represent the school, Jodi Roberto Hancock, homecoming committee adviser and MSU Women’s Resource Center educational program coordinator said.
“I have been really been honored and humbled,” Sherman said of the honor. But for Sherman this is just another positive thing in her life.
“You can’t focus on one thing or one negative, you just have to keep trekking on and that’s the case for hockey and for life.”
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