March back in step

Bay Roberts vol­ley­baller plays key role in Sea-Hawks suc­cess this sea­son

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

How does an ath­lete know they’ve re­turned com­pletely from a ca­reer threat­en­ing in­jury?

Ask Sam March, who plays for the Me­mo­rial Univer­sity Sea­Hawks women’s vol­ley­ball team, and she might say that point came when she could move around the vol­ley­ball court with­out the need for a brace or a tightly wrapped knee.

“In the sum­mer of 2011, I for­got to put on the brace play­ing de­fence and it felt good,” said the 22-yearold. “I didn’t know I wasn’t wear­ing it un­til I looked at my knee.”

Af­ter March tore the me­dial col­lat­eral lig­a­ment (MCL), an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment (ACL) and the menis­cus in her knee while train­ing for the 2009 Canada Sum­mer Games, she won­dered whether she would ever play again at an elite level.

“It’s a slow process and I didn’t think I’d get back,” she said last week. “It was prob­a­bly one of the tough­est pe­ri­ods of my life … to know I wasn’t go­ing to be on the court for over a year was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult.”

But if any­one has any doubts about her re­cov­ery, one only needs to re­view her stats from the 20112012 At­lantic Univer­sity Sport (AUS) sea­son.

She ranked among the top-10 in three AUS of­fen­sive cat­e­gories, fin­ish­ing third in kills with a 3.40 per game av­er­age, fourth in points with 243 and eighth in digs with 201.

“Sam may be the best pure ath­lete in the AUS,” Me­mo­rial coach Bill This­tle told Transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia re­cently, adding that she “re­gained her ex­plo­sive­ness” this sea­son.

March said her teammates were a big help in her re­cov­ery.

“They helped quite a lot and were very sup­port­ive when I suf­fered the in­jury,” she said.

March can now tack on sec­ondteam AUS all-star hon­ours to her come­back sea­son.

“It’s ex­cit­ing and sur­pris­ing,” said the Bay Roberts na­tive.

In what was def­i­nitely the prover­bial ic­ing on the cake, March’s Sea-hawks strung to­gether an im­pres­sive sea­son and en­tered the AUS cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment Feb. 17-19 as the fifth seed.

“It was pretty ex­cit­ing,” she said. “No one was dis­ap­pointed.”

March said the tour­na­ment was a “big deal” for her team and the univer­sity as a whole.

“It was MUN’S first time send­ing a team in five years,” she said.

The tour­na­ment, which was held at the Univer­sity of Monc­ton, opened for the Sea-hawks with a match against No. 4 seeded St. Fran­cis Xavier X-women in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

MUN downed the X-women 2523, 19-25, 25-20 and 25-23, with March pick­ing up 14 kills.

In the semi­fi­nals, the MUN squad squared off with sec­ond­seeded Dal­housie Tigers.

The Tigers out­lasted the Sea­Hawks 3-2 in the best-of-five af­fair, in­clud­ing a 15-4 decision in the de­cid­ing en­counter. March had 13 kills and 14 digs. “It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence,” said March. “We were in a build­ing year, not a win­ning year. It felt great.”

Big­gest sup­porter

With her dad, Der­rick, watch­ing from the bench as an as­sis­tant coach, March also had a spe­cial fan in the stands — her mom Michelle Crocker.

“See­ing her this week­end in Monc­ton, it brought tears to my eyes,” Crocker said.

Crocker has been with March ev­ery step of the way since her ini­tial surgery, when Crocker feared March “would never play again, let

To not only have the op­por­tu­nity to watch such a high cal­iber sport­ing event but also to see Sam back, fully re­cov­ered and per­form­ing the way she did. Words can­not ex­press how ex­cited and proud I was off her.

Michelle Crocker, mother of MUN vol­ley­baller Sam March

alone be able to jump, hit and block.”

She said it was hard to ex­press how she felt in Monc­ton watch­ing her daugh­ter in Sea-hawks red.

“To not only have the op­por­tu­nity to watch such a high cal­i­bre sport­ing event but also to see Sam back, fully re­cov­ered and per­form­ing the way she did,” said Crocker. “Words can­not ex­press how ex­cited and proud I was of her.”

March, in her third year of phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion stud­ies, still has two years of el­i­gi­bil­ity re­main­ing, and is ex­cited for the fu­ture of her team.

“We have some new play­ers com­ing in who seem like they are go­ing to be a great ad­di­tion to our team. An­other off-sea­son at the gym will re­ally seal the deal,” she said.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Joe Gibbons/Transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia

Bay Roberts na­tive Sam March picked up sec­ond-team AUS all-star hon­ours af­ter a stel­lar 2011-2012 sea­son for Me­mo­rial Univer­sity Lady Sea-hawks vol­ley­ball team and helped lead her team to an ap­pear­ance at the AUS cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment for the first time in five years.

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