Cabarrus

She's glad to return to the net after accident

Hickory Ridge's Sarah Henderson is back on the volleyball court for summer workouts.

Although that doesn't sound like a big deal, for Henderson just being able to once again play the sport she loves is incredible.

The rising senior has had to overcome a series of surgeries following an accident that left her with a broken ankle and collarbone as well as three broken ribs on Nov. 25, 2008.

Henderson also broke the entire lumbar region of her back and tore her ACL.

"It was scary," said Henderson.

Among her many procedures, she had three back surgeries. During her final spinal surgery, last December, doctors fused her lower back to her pelvis.

Although Henderson admits that her back still feels tight at times, she's been happy with her recovery, especially when it comes to volleyball.

"I hadn't touched the ball for so long, but after doing it for a little while it got better," she said.

"Coming back to play, it doesn't feel like I left, really. It's just adjusting to everything, like not being able to twist."

Before her accident, Henderson already was one of the best volleyball players in Cabarrus County. She had been a starter for the Ragin' Bulls her freshman and sophomore seasons and had been named all-conference both years.

Henderson had attracted some college interest, but those scholarship prospects went away after her accident.

"It's no big deal to me," she said. "I now realize that there's more to life than volleyball - that there's more that I can do with my life than just play."

Hickory Ridge volleyball coach Patti Chason, who has known Henderson since she was born, said it was upsetting to see her go through her injury. But she said she's been impressed with the determination Henderson has shown to get better so she can get back on the court.

"I don't know any person who would've worked this hard," said Chason.

The coach added that she's been working out with Henderson one-on-one to get her ready for her volleyball comeback.

Even with her limitations, Henderson admits that she's been doing better than she expected, adding that her setting and serving might be better than before.

What has impressed the Ragin' Bulls' coach the most is that Henderson doesn't want to be treated differently.

"She's a great model for everyone else," she said. "I tell the other girls that I don't want to hear about a little jammed finger or if a ball has hit them in the head; they need to think about what Sarah has gone through and that she's out here playing."

Henderson said having to be off the court for an entire season was one of the most frustrating things she's had to go through.

"Volleyball was my life," the setter said.

Even though she couldn't help her team on the court last season, Henderson still went to nearly all of her team's games to push her team on from the sidelines, even though she admits it wasn't something she particularly enjoyed. She even kept the team's stats for Chason.

"It was just frustrating to sit there and watch my team go down without me or even be doing great," she said.

Because of all the time she spent at Levine Children's Hospital, Henderson has decide to volunteer at the hospital as a way to give back. She has worked with the neonatal unit and plans to do so again in the fall.

"We love it there," she said, explaining that her mom, Lisa Robinson, also volunteers and that her younger siblings donated the money raised in a lemonade stand to the Charlotte-based hospital.

Henderson, who admits to be nervous about her first real taste of competitive volleyball next month, isn't too concerned about how she will do when the season rolls around. There are more important things to worry about.

"Life is very short," she said.

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