Abby Prohaska – Notre Dame Basketball

“I vividly remember my grandma and I sitting in our car in DC for a tournament my Sophomore year of high school when I got the call from my position coach at Notre Dame. I got out of the car in the middle of an alleyway in Chinatown to talk to her. Thinking of Notre Dame as a possibility for my future made my heart skip a beat. It had the academics, it had the basketball, it had an exceptional community of students and athletes. As soon as I got the offer, I wanted to scream ‘Yes!’ but I was chill and tried to play it off. When I got in the car after my first visit I said, ‘Mom, I’m coming here I know it.’”

“Freshman year, I made a point to be friends with the upperclassmen because they had the knowledge that I needed. I remember one day after practice I was in the locker room with Marina and Arike. I had completely bombed the practice and so I was just firing off questions. I wanted to know what I should do differently and to hear from girls who experienced the same lows that I was experiencing. If this exchange taught me anything it’s that it’s really important to talk to people that have endured tough days and learned how to push through.”

“All athletes that have suffered a near career ending injury can vouch for the fear, panic, and pain that accompanies it. I woke up one night to a searing pain. It felt like somebody took a knife and twisted it into my shoulder, slowly edging it towards my lungs. So the morning after I called and described the immense pain to my trainer, and, immediately, we decided to consult the team doctor. The doctor gave me three options: Either I could get an x-ray at an urgent care, get an x-ray at the emergency room, or go back to sleep. Being my stubborn self, I said I wanted to try sleeping. To this the doctor responded,  ‘You know what, I think we better go to the emergency room.’”

“My time in the emergency room felt like days when in reality it was about 15 hours. My ultrasound showed nothing; the X-ray showed nothing, and finally they did a CT because of suspicion of possible problems with my gallbladder. The doctor came in with the results and said, ‘Good news, no gallbladder issues, but you do have a bilateral pulmonary embolism.’ I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but I knew it couldn’t be good. I had a blood clot in each of my lungs. I just thought, am I supposed to be in shock, I have no idea what this all means? My team doctor told me that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t have woken up if I fell back asleep that night.”

“In the beginning, a few of the doctors I had met with told me there was a good chance I would never play again; I told them I didn’t believe them. No matter what, we had to find a way to heal me so I could play again. I met with doctor after doctor until we came up with a progression plan back into play. The process was slow. I started by progressing from body weight to lightly jogging on the treadmill until I was able to play on the defensive team. I was grateful to be playing, it was just so different from what I was used to, especially because I was still deciding whether or not I would come back for the second half of the season. After three months of hard work I decided to sit out the rest of the season because I still didn’t feel fully ready to compete at the level I needed to.” 

“Throughout this whole experience, what helped me the most was the constant communication with my coaches and trainers as well as asking questions like I always had. Having trusted people in your life that know what you undergo and how it affects you is probably one of the most integral components of a recovery. I can’t emphasize how important relationships are in getting you through difficult times, especially during COVID. They help with seeing the process out and asking questions, and, hopefully, those relationships are the ones that encourage you to always keep pushing.”

“I think it’s really, really important to tell kids to keep pushing and to keep fighting. It might be tough one day, but having that trophy with your name on it is worth more than the pain you may go through to get there. Athletes can have a massive impact on little kids, so I think it’s important to relay on a message of hope. Keep fighting and never give up.”

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