ERIN Mack is hoping her second comeback attempt lasts longer than her first.
The Columbus East senior tore her ACL playing club volleyball last spring and tried to return during the high school season in the fall. But in her first tournament back, she retore the ACL.
Now, Mack is trying to come back a second time, this time in her other sport, track and field.
The two-time state qualifier in the high jump began practicing last week and will have enough practices in to compete Tuesday at Madison.
“This is my goal since I hurt myself in volleyball season way back in the fall,” Mack said.
Dr. Thomas Klootwyk at Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis performed the surgery on Mack’s right knee. She also did her rehab through Methodist.
“The hard part is seeing her not be able to get out there and do the things she likes to do and has a passion for,” said her father, Tom Mack. “That’s what as a parent hurts you the most. You want your child to be able to go out and do everything they want to do. She’s such a super-competitive kid that it makes it so much more difficult because she wants to go out there and compete, whether it’s volleyball or high jump.”
Although she didn’t have enough practices under her belt to compete for the Olympians in Tuesday’s dual meet against Bloomington North, Mack jumped with the rest of the competitors for practice. She cleared 4 feet, 10 inches, which is well off the school record of 5-6 she set as a sophomore and the 5-5 she jumped before the injury last spring.
“I can’t do it like I used to,” said Mack, who tied for 11th at state as a sophomore. “(The knee) gets sore real easy. My endurance is not quite there, and my strength needs a lot of improvement.”
Since Mack jumps off her right leg, she has shortened her approach to five steps for the time being. She’s made 5-0 twice in practice with that five-step approach.
“I’ve been going from a short mark because my long mark is a lot of running, and it strains my knee a lot,” Mack said. “I’m not quite ready to do my long mark yet. The timing is kind of off since I’ve changed some things. I have to keep pushing my strength.”
East coach Glen Brown, whose team hosts Columbus North today, thinks Mack has made progress.
“Her form is looking really good again,” Brown said. “She’s been working in the offseason getting her strength back. When the doctors first started telling her to do therapy and stuff, she was doing it well, so she’s been getting stronger and stronger. Obviously, she hasn’t lost a lot of technique, so that should help her a lot.
“It’s like any return — you have good days and bad days,” he said. “She’s having more good days than bad days anymore, so that’s a good thing.”
Mack’s sister, Katie, a sophomore, is the Olympians’ other top high jumper. Katie Mack helped fill the void when Erin was injured last season.
With Erin back in the mix, East could now have a solid 1-2 punch in the high jump like it had at the beginning of last season.
“My goal would be obviously to get back to state, but it will be tough this year,” Erin Mack said.
“She’s always been a model of patience, and she’s always been extremely pleased with her recovery,” Kim Mack said. “She works hard.”
Despite the injury, Mack has received a partial scholarship offer from the University of Indianapolis for volleyball.
“When I contacted them about recruiting, they were real interested,” Mack said. “So I went on a visit, and they offered me a position. Then, I went back for an overnight (visit), and then I committed a week later.”
Mack, who also plans to high jump for the Greyhounds, picked UIndy over Valparaiso and Hanover. She plans to major in physical therapy or exercise science.
“Mostly, it was their physical therapy program,” Mack said. “When I went on my visit, it was not what I was expecting because it’s 10 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. I was expecting suburbs, but it wasn’t. It was an actual campus feel.
“The people were awesome,” she said. “I love all the coaches and all the players, and I met some of the teachers. It’s a great fit for me, and I’m excited to go there next year.”