Senior athletes face season-changing injuries

Allison Schils, Staff Writer

As summer came to a close, the exciting season of fall sports was just getting started. Milford athletes  prepared for their upcoming season and beginning to juggle their school work along with it. Some students however, had more than just books and practices on their minds.

Seniors Ashley Murray and Jack Stander had to work around managing an injury as well. Murray is a four-year varsity volleyball athlete and, for the majority of her time on this team, has been one of the starting outside hitters. Stander has been playing football for 12 years and was a slot receiver for the varsity team.

Each with differing injuries, Stander and Murray were both fighting hard to overcome them during their last high school athletic season.

Murray was at a club volleyball tournament in April when she went up to block and landed on the foot of the girl on the other side of the net. “All of my weight transferred to my ankle and it snapped,” Murray said. She described the moment of the injury as numbing, but also discouraging as she was unsure what the next steps were going to be.

Murray had to go to physical therapy four days out of the week, as well as complete at-home exercises. “She stayed dedicated to the team and she always played her part in her leadership role on the team,” teammate Josie Duncan said.

Many athletes that go through injuries like this only look at the negative side, but Murray had an incredibly positive outlook on her team as a whole.  “I kind of took myself out of the equation and put them first and so my whole focus was on them and their performance,” Murray said.

Not only a great athlete but a great teammate, Murray took on her injury and recovered quickly. She is now back on the court with MMVB (Milford Mavericks Volleyball) and is playing a strong senior season. She is also committed to play volleyball at Hope College next year.

Stander had an even more unfortunate situation, during seven on seven football over the summer, Stander tore his ACL.  “I went up to catch the ball and I caught it and I came down and my leg hyperextended,” he said. In the moment, he was hopeful, thinking that there was a possibility that there was nothing wrong.

Stander ended up having to sit out for the first three games of the season, while also completing physical therapy three days a week and some exercises at home as well. “He stayed committed to the program while he was hurt and was supportive and a mentor to the JV and Freshman teams,” teammate Ethan Phipps said.

He finally got to have his senior debut during the home game against Northern. “It was surreal; I guess because I really didn’t think I would be coming back because I had been told I would be out for the season,” Stander said.

Both athletes, injured in different areas and different ways, had similar experiences of recovery and are both thrilled to be back in the game. “Take it as a moment to use it to your advantage so you can use it to work on your mental strength,” Murray said “It doesn’t make you any less of an athlete now that you’re injured.”

This advice from these athletes goes out to anyone who has been injured playing a sport that they love. “Stay hopeful and kind of expect the worst and hope for the best,” Stander said. “You can only do so much, but you gotta see if you can overcome it.” Stander and Murray are great reminders to students who miss out on the activities they love. They overcame difficult injuries and are now back playing their senior season with a new fire.

Senior Jack Stander at his first game back against Northern.
Senior Ashley Murray up at the net at the volleyball game against Lakeland. (Jerry Rea Photography)