GOSHEN — Bethany Christian senior Jadyn Kaufmann will be wearing a brace on each knee this upcoming volleyball season.
The braces are a reminder of the heartbreak Kaufmann has endured during high school athletic career.
As a sophomore, Kaufmann suffered a torn ACL in her left knee during a volleyball match.
With that injury healed and cleared for athletic activities on June 11th, 2018, Kaufmann faced more adversity her junior year after suffering a torn ACL in her right knee while playing in a basketball game on December 15th.
"It was very discouraging," said Kaufmann about the second ACL tear. "I had gone through so much with the first ACL tear. I didn't want to go through another ACL injury.
"It felt completely different the second time. I wasn't in as much pain and there wasn't as much swelling. But when I got the MRI it was very evident that I had torn it. I had the surgery on December 28th."
Bethany Christian girls basketball coach Krysten Parson still gets emotional when talking about Kaufmann's second ACL tear.
"She went down at our holiday tournament," said Parson. "It was awful. She went up for a layup and went down. There was no collision. She just started screaming. Me and the trainer came out to check on her and it was dead silent in the gym. Half the team was also volleyball players and they were just in tears. My assistant coach was trying to console the kids and re-direct them because Jadyn was hurt right in front of our bench."
Bethany Christian volleyball coach Lois Mast was in attendance when the second ACL tear took place.
"All of our mouth's opened and said it couldn't be and we had that sinking feeling," said Mast. "For a few hours we were hoping it wasn't another ACL tear."
Kaufmann once again faced hours of intense discomfort and grueling rehabilitation.
"At the beginning, I had a lot more pain in my left knee," Kaufmann said. "That caused me some problems. I was kind of scared, but I had to push myself. Because I had suffered the injury on my left knee, I kind of knew what to expect when I hurt my right knee."
In the first six weeks of recovery Kaufmann was wearing a straight leg brace for six weeks and doing therapy once a week. Afterwards, came therapy twice a week for two months. She then was able to cut back on her therapy as the knee started to heal.
"There's a lot of emphasis on strengthening the quads and glutes because those muscles prevent the knee from shifting," Kaufmann said about the therapy. "You do a lot of squats, lunging and jumping."
Plenty of doubt crept in as Kaufmann went through the healing process.
"I did have those feelings," Kaufmann admitted. "The fifth and sixth month into it for both knees were very hard for me. Once you get past those months you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and your motivation starts kicking back in and you get ready for the season coming up."
Kaufmann found out on July 24 that she was medically cleared to start preparing for this year's volleyball season.
"I was very surprised," she said about being cleared by her doctor. "I tore the ACL in December and I was cleared only seven months after the injury. Usually, there's an eight month recovery period. I expected to be cleared in August. It's awesome to come back early and help my teammates.
"My knee feels great and very strong entering the season. Even though I've been cleared it's important to keep up on my therapy so I can stay strong throughout the season."
Mast is excited about seeing her standout setter back in action.
"It means a lot to us as a team to have her back," Mast said. "We had a good year last year and we're looking forward to good things happening again this year.
"I'm really proud of her and how hard she's worked to get back playing. It shows a lot of maturity and discipline. It's huge to get her cleared now to play. She's been such an awesome teammate. All the girls are pulling for her."
Kaufmann, who also owns a stellar 4.0 grade-point average, was asked if she wants to play both volleyball and basketball her senior season.
"I'm planning on it," she said. "Giving up sports was never an option for me. It's why I wanted to get back healthy."
Kaufmann feels that the braces won't restrict her ability to contribute as an athlete.
"I'm pretty confident with my braces," Kaufmann said. "I feel like I can do anything with them on. I need both of them for stability. A brace is pretty awkward to play with at the beginning, but you get used to it when you play with it for awhile."
As the team's setter, Kaufmann helped lead the Bruins to a sectional title last year.
"My favorite sport is volleyball," Kaufmann said. "I've been playing it a lot longer. My mom was a middle school and varsity volleyball coach at Bethany and she played volleyball in high school and college. She coached me and played volleyball with me in the backyard. I fell in love with the sport at a young age and that passion was carried through into high school."
Parson is looking forward to having Kaufmann back on the basketball court this season. Her primary role has been as a shooting guard.
"What she lacks in some skills she makes up for in hard work and discipline," Parson said. "She's also relentless and always wants to do everything well and get the most out of herself. We missed her energy and toughness.
"Getting through the volleyball season (after the first ACL injury) was huge for her. She knows she can play after the injury and won't be hindered or scared. Bringing that success she had with the volleyball team to the basketball team is huge for our program. As a setter, everything ran through her on the volleyball team. She didn't shy away from big moments. It will be great to have her back on the basketball team. She's so resilient and tough I can't help but love her."
Kaufmann won't forget the support she got during the difficult times.
"My basketball teammates gave me an envelope of cards with encouraging notes," Kaufmann said. "There were like 200 cards. I opened cards every day. It was crazy. There were also encouraging notes sent to my locker.
"They've been awesome."