HOPE — Taylor Henderson wasn’t too far off from having to give up high school sports entirely when a hour-and-a-half surgery changed everything.
Henderson was born with hip dysplasia, which basically means she is without a hip socket. She grew up just playing through the pain but finally decided to follow through with the surgery on her right hip after her doctor told her she would be forced to have a full metal hip replacement if she waited any longer.
The metal hip would have ended the Hauser junior’s three-sport athletics career.
Softball is the least enjoyable sport for Henderson, so she decided to have the surgery toward the end of last softball season. She knew she would recover in enough time to not miss basketball season, her favorite sport.
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What Henderson didn’t know was if she would be on the court for the Jets during volleyball season. The thought of missing out on volleyball caused a bit of depression to sink in for the right-side hitter shortly after the surgery. Henderson leaned on her parents and friends for support.
“I never didn’t play a sport. I was always playing sports,” Henderson said. “Parents and friends, they always came to visit me and stuff. That definitely kept me going.”
Recovering was a four-month process, and Henderson didn’t even start rehabbing until two months after the surgery. Hauser volleyball coach Jeff Case already had it in his mind that she would not be joining the Jets this season until Henderson informed him she was released to play about a week before the season started.
Henderson’s rehab, where she did agility exercises every two weeks to check her improvement, lasted about two months. She had to periodically take measurements of her hip and make she sure stretched properly through the entire process.
“I thought I was going to miss a lot more (time) than I did, but I started the first practice,” Henderson said. “It was great. My parents were like, ‘You’re not going to be able to play,’ and I was like ‘Um, but I am.’ So I played, and it was fun.”
Henderson’s ability to accomplish the unexpected was just a prerequisite for what was to come for the rest of the Hauser team. No team in the history of Hauser volleyball had ever made it to to the state championship game, and this year’s Jets team has finally broke through the ceiling.
Hauser is headed to Muncie on Saturday to compete against Lafayette Central Catholic for the Class A state title in a season where the Jets weren’t even sure if they would have one of their key players in Henderson.
“I actually thought about not playing just so I could recover better, but I’m happy I didn’t. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here,” Henderson said. “It’s great, it’s exciting, and I’m really looking forward to state.”
Henderson has the same issue with her left hip, which will require the same surgery after basketball season. The pain she remembers feeling in her right hip for most of her life is finally gone, and her mobility has enhanced. She is able to move around on the court with her right hip better than she could ever move before the surgery.
“It just feels different because I can do more,” Henderson said. “… I can’t do as much with my (right) hip because if I do a certain move or something, it can pop out. I feel like I can do more with my other hip being fixed.”
Case said Henderson’s confidence has grown since having the surgery, especially in her serving. Henderson has 26 aces on the season, including one on match point in Saturday’s five-set semistate final win against Barr-Reeve.
Henderson is playing at a high level now, but the first month of the season was a little rocky. It wasn’t until about three weeks into the season when she stopped feeling any pain in her right hip, and Case said she was a bit out of shape after not touching a volleyball for almost a year.
“The first couple of weeks was a little rough, but she really started to come around,” Case said. “She’s improved steadily all year. She’s really become a weapon on that right side. That’s really valuable to have … She’s been pretty important, especially when we had a play in that we’ve used over the summer. She definitely gives us a bigger block out there on the right side, which is really important. ”
Name: Taylor Henderson
Position: Right-side hitter
Key stats: 99 kills, 35 blocks, 26 aces.
Other sports: Basketball, softball