Posted On: 05/28/20 4:30 PM

For many athletes, playing at a high level year after year will always bring the risk of injury.  Whether it’s a sprained ankle, pulled muscle, part of the game is playing through.  However, there is always the threat of something far worse which forces athletes to sit out weeks, sometimes months, lots of watching on the sidelines to one day get back with their teammates.  For Alexis BolingAlexisBoling6'0" | MBWaukesha West | 2021StateWI, Anna WolfAnnaWolf6'2" | MBRiver Falls | 2021StateWI, and Jazmine Yamilkoski the time spent through recovery and rehab to get back on the court has taught them lessons along the way and also major hunger to get back to the sport they love. 

For Anna WolfAnnaWolf6'2" | MBRiver Falls | 2021StateWI who has played in three state tournaments for River Falls and has spent the past two seasons at Minnesota Select, the 6’4 Junior has always looked the part.  With an approach touch of 10’5 and silky smooth movement along the net, Wolf committed to Minnesota her freshman year.  After a stellar high school season her sophomore year and an elite eight appearance on the MN Select 18-1 team at USAV 18 Open nationals, it was the summer before her junior season where Wolf was forced to sit out with a back injury that wouldn’t go away.

[player_tooltip player_id="12959" first="Anna" last="Wolf"]

Wolf sat out most of her junior season, coming back for postseason play, her team advancing to the state semifinals.  But following the high school season, it was back to street clothes and watching from the sideline with back pain. 

My rehab process was a little unfortunate. I got cleared from my back injury a week before all the tournaments started getting cancelled so I haven’t played in an actual game since February. I have been trying my best to do everything in my power to stay in shape for when I can play again,” said Wolf. 

Throw in a global pandemic and that always brings another challenge for athletes who are working with trainers and physical therapists getting back to 100%. 

“The Training Haus, where I rehab and work out, has been so helpful in the process. When they closed, my trainer Chris Doney immediately sent me home  workouts to help me stay in shape and also help strengthen my back. I did those workouts three times a week and also did conditioning workouts that they gave me three times a week. Training Haus reopened about a month ago with strict guidelines. That has been nice to use my usual weights and have instructors there to help me progress. I have also been peppering and doing other drills with my mom a lot. She is very good and isn’t afraid to hit it hard at me!”

Wolf is back and ready to get back to the court, doing what she does best.  She has evolved into one of the top middle blockers in Wisconsin and will be a welcome addition to the Gophers.  Through this process of injury and the pandemic she has learned some lessons along the way. 

“My back feels better than it has in almost a year. Movements that usually hurt haven’t been bothering me. Maybe a little time off was good for it. This pandemic has really taught me to slow down and control only what I can control.”

For Alexis BolingAlexisBoling6'0" | MBWaukesha West | 2021StateWI who recently committed to North Dakota State this past year, the gym is her second home (maybe sometimes her first with all the time spent there).  When Boling isn’t dominating the net for Waukesha West (WI) and Milwaukee Sting, she is also a standout on the basketball court.  However, this past winter Boling suffered a knee injury which forced her to crutches with a brace, and lots of time watching basketball and club volleyball practice where despite the injury, was always there for her teammates. 

“For the first 5 weeks after surgery I couldn’t do much. I had crutches and a knee brace and was limited to applying 50% of my weight on my knee at all times.  I was blessed to get to work with my athletic trainer everyday after school doing some type of rehab whether it be range of motion or getting my strength back. It was awesome still getting the chance to travel with my team and support them every step of the way even if I couldn’t be on the court. My mentality was trying to help them win with my words, or give them information on what I was seeing on the sideline,” said Boling. 

Just as Boling was getting cleared to be back on the court, that’s when the pandemic took place forcing Boling to wait just a little longer to get back on the court, but that hasn’t held back her progress to getting back to her fierce, athletic self. 

“Thankfully, I am 100% and am SO eager to get back to playing. I still work on stretching my knee everyday so it doesn’t tighten back up. Because I haven’t played volleyball since November, I will still need to work back into things and be cautious even though my knee is fully healed.” 

Just like Wolf, there are lessons learned along the way through injury and pandemic that ultimately will pay off for Boling. 

“I have learned that every single rep counts. Sitting and watching was SUPER hard for me to do, but I realized that I could better my mental game during this time. I have worked on positive self-talk and learned to push myself for one more rep. And finally, I learned that I can’t focus on the negatives. Although being hurt was not fun, I was able to better myself in so many ways that will help me with my return to the game and make me an even better player, and hopefully I will be better for myself, but my teammates and coaches too.”

Yamilkoski

Jazmine Yamilkoski has been on the big stage as one of the top setters in the Class of 2021 in Iowa, helping lead her team Xavier High School team to a state runner up finish as a Sophomore and has always been a key force for a highly powered Six Pack club out of the Cedar Falls area.  However, this past season, Yamilkoski’s high school season looked a little different with a hip injury during the year.  Yamilkoski played libero the tail end of the season, still advancing to the state tournament where she would have surgery immediately after. 

I tore my labrum in my left hip. The rehab has been tough for me because it’s very slow. I’ve been starting to practice again with limited motion and am super hopeful to be fully cleared once I can see my surgeon again in early June. 

A torn labrum and getting back to walking is a feat in itself.  The Tennessee Tech commit will look to take command once again, leading Xavier back to the state tournament with unfinished business on their mind.  The Saints will be a top contender in Iowa’s Class 4A. Through this process, Yamilkoski will bring along lessons learned. 

“This process has taught me I need to be patient and take it slow to let my body just HEAL which i think a lot of athletes don’t do.  Over quarantine I’ve had so much free time, it’s been a great opportunity to work on myself.”