Nov. 25, 2010
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. Click HERE to check it out.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Going through one major surgery is a challenge for anybody. Try having four surgeries. Next, have four surgeries and then have the strength and perseverance to return to the court to compete at the highest level for the Iowa volleyball team in the Big Ten Conference.
“This experience has taught me a lot,” said Becky Walters, a fifth year senior for the Hawkeyes, who will play her final two matches at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this weekend beginning with a 1 p.m. date with nationally ranked Penn State on “Black Friday.”
“People say everything happens for a reason, and I would say that’s exactly why this happened to me.”
After redshirting her first season, Walters injured her anterior cruciate ligament 12 matches into the 2007 season during the Big Ten opener against Indiana. From there, she had reconstructive surgery where doctors took a part of her hamstring to fix her knee. Shortly thereafter, she got a staph infection, requiring a second surgery.
Something still wasn’t right, as Walters was forced to go in for a third surgery to clean out her knee a second time. She tried to play without an ACL, but the stability wasn’t there, so she went under the knife for a fourth time. During this procedure, they took the ACL from a patella tendon allograft from a cadaver.
“There were doubts in my mind about continuing playing when I tried playing without an ACL,” explained Walters. “There is always a doubt after any surgery that you won’t be able to come back, but I think that motivated me to push even harder.”
Moving on is what Walters has done, as she’s enjoyed her finest season as a Hawkeye in 2010. The middle blocker from Parkersburg, leads the team with 93 blocks, while ranking second on the squad with 220 kills. Walters also is a service ace shy of breaking the single-season record of 36 that has stood since 2001.
“I am definitely not ready to be done with volleyball. It’s been my lifestyle for the past five years, so it’s going to be really difficult to let it go.”
“I don’t know if I have coached an athlete, maybe one or two in my coaching career, that has given themselves an opportunity to succeed like Becky has,” said Walter’s coach, Sharon Dingman. “Everything she’s put into this to allow herself to succeed has been tremendous.”
Walters will go down among the program’s all-time leaders, sitting at No. 14 on the career blocks list and No. 15 in all-time attack percentage. She also holds the top mark in the record books for attack percentage in a single match — a .818 hitting clip against Drake in 2009.
As Walters prepares to play in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the final time this weekend, the senior looks back on her time at the UI with fondness, although she’s not quite ready to move onto the next chapter in life.
“I am definitely not ready to be done with volleyball,” said Walters. “It’s been my lifestyle for the past five years, so it’s going to be really difficult to let it go.”
“I think it has been remarkable what she has been able to do,” said Dingman. “With her health issues, she’s allowed herself a chance to succeed at the highest level.
“What an amazing story. To see her come out and be a leader on this team everyday on the court is tremendous. I think she is one of the best stories in college athletics that I have ever been around.”
The Hawkeyes close the regular season on the national stage, hosting No. 7 Penn State on Friday at 1 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Iowa will wrap up the season against Ohio State on Saturday at 7 p.m.