No Pain, No Gain

How an athlete has overcome her injuries


Photo courtesy of Dan Roberts

Junior Delaney Richardson is up at bat for the Millard West Varsity Softball team. This was her first game playing after being cleared from her most recent injury. “I was terrified and excited at the same time,” Richardson said. “There was always the worry in the back of my head that I would get injured again.”

Dana Summers, Staff Reporter

For sophomore Delaney Richardson, being an athlete has always been a main priority. At the young age of 4, Richardson began playing softball and instantly found a love for the sport. However, it was basketball that caused Richardson the start to her long chain of injuries.

Playing for the Russell Timberwolves in eighth grade, Richardson went for a layup and took a hard fall to the ground landing directly on her right knee. She tried to stand up, but her knee buckled and gave out. After a trip to the doctor, Richardson discovered that she had torn her PCL. She was put in a straight brace for one month and began to heal over time. Following doctors’ orders, Richardson stayed out of sports and went to physical therapy for three months.

“Delaney was devastated that she couldn’t be playing on the court with us,” junior and teammate Jillian Haver said. “Either way, she still came to every single one of our games for moral support. I remember her cheering the loudest out of anyone on the sidelines.”

After being cleared, Richardson was eager to play softball again in the spring season. Unfortunately, it was in a softball tournament that she injured her knee, yet again, while sliding into a base. This time was even worse than before. Not only had she further torn her PCL, but Richardson learned that she needed to have surgery. 

Considering it just another minor setback, Richardson did everything in her power to ensure a speedy recovery. She went to physical therapy for 11 months until she was cleared to play softball again. This gave Richardson just enough time to earn a spot on the Millard West Varsity Softball team before her sophomore year.

She made it through the season injury free, but hit another bump in the road playing softball for her summer team. While at third base during practice, a teammate dove into Richardson’s knee causing her to fall on top of it. Shortly after being rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that Richardson had now torn her MCL. Always looking at the positives, she was thankful that this injury required only physical therapy rather than another surgery. 

“Delaney stood out to me as a patient because of her amazing attitude,” physical therapist Shelley Van Ackeren said. “I will never forget how optimistic she was. Never once did I hear her complain about her injury or the therapy itself.” 

By this time, Richardson was used to the recovery process. She was cleared only one week before her junior year tryouts for Millard West softball. Richardson worked harder than ever and earned back her starting spot on varsity.

“The hardest part for me was getting over the fear of another injury,” Richardson said. “I knew that I physically had the skills to play again, but it was very mentally challenging to get back into things. Overall, though, my injuries taught me how to be strong and move forward no matter the situation.”

Richardson’s optimistic attitude throughout the challenges she faced is what sets her apart from most athletes. She carried this determination with her into the beginning of Millard West softball as she started in the first six games of the season.