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HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY: Indians netminder back after accident
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When Friday’s pregame rituals and warm-ups are complete, Stafford goalie Kelsey Trainor will jog into the cage, bang her stick against her pads for one last check, and then take a moment to be thankful.
Thankful she’s playing Westfield High School in the 6A state semifinals at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach. Thankful she’s with her teammates.
Thankful that what maybe should have happened didn’t.
“I definitely had an angel watching over me,” Trainor said. “I think about it now and it’s really scary.”
How scary? Look at the pictures Trainor has on her cellphone of the crushed hulk of metal that once was her car. See the roof caved in, right above where Trainor was sitting? Hear her version of events—including words like “airborne” and “rolled over” and “hanging upside down.”
“We pulled up and I can only tell you,” said Stephanie Trainor, Kelsey’s mother, “I was jumping out of a moving truck. I was scared to death for her.”
But the worst of that is in the past, stuck in the too-dreadful-to-consider file. Somehow Trainor walked away with just bumps, bruises and a concussion.
She’s back in goal now, thankful just to have the chance to finish out her senior season.
“We were elated,” Stephanie Trainor said about watching her daughter return after missing four games. “We truly thank God that she’s able to play and has come back and is playing very well.”
On Sunday, Sept. 30, Trainor left church and was driving to Fredericksburg Field House for more field hockey. The pothole in a backwoods Stafford County road took her by surprise.
Her car veered off the pavement and Trainor—as young drivers are prone to do—overcorrected and then overcorrected again, accident investigators told her.
“At the time I didn’t realize I had flipped the car; I don’t remember that at all,” said Trainor, who was told the car rolled over three or four times, landing in a cornfield. “I was sitting there, upside down, feet in the air, and I was like, ‘Well, how am I getting out of here?’
“I panicked a little, but I calmed down and crawled out. I don’t know how I did it; I guess it was adrenaline.”
She sat down next to her car and help soon arrived—from a house next door and others who had witnessed the accident.
By the time Stephanie Trainor reached the accident, her daughter was strapped to a stretcher and was being loaded into an ambulance.
At the hospital, Trainor recalls one conversation she had with a doctor: “I’ve got to play on Monday.”
“He said, ‘I don’t think you’re going to play Monday.’
“And I said, ‘No. I have to play Monday.’”
It wasn’t an argument Trainor would win.
THE ROAD BACK
Trainor was lucky. Accidents less fearsome kill drivers every day. Accidents less dramatic result in catastrophic injuries every day.
But she walked away.
Trainor had a nasty cut on her hand. Her left side felt battered from banging against the car as it rolled over. She’s still got a bit of whiplash she’s rehabbing.
The worst of it was a concussion, an injury Stephanie Trainor, Kelsey’s doctor and Stafford High School athletic trainer Ben Colwell took very seriously.
“I had to promise her doctor I wouldn’t let her play,” Stephanie Trainor said. “It was a lot of coordinating with [Colwell] to make sure she didn’t come back too early. It’s so important to give them a chance to heal.”
And time is the only medicine for a serious concussion.
Trainor was not a full-time student for three weeks of school—the lights and constant cacophony of the classroom caused headaches. She had to drop an online college course she was taking, because she could not sit at a computer and keep up.
“Trying to take the cell phone and the television and the computer away from a teenager?” Stephanie Trainor said. “That’s one of the hardest things you have to to as a parent.”
But it was a turning point in her recovery, her mom said—a weekend spent basically in the dark with as little visual stimulation as possible, to give her brain a chance to heal.
“She did it,” Stephanie Trainor said. “She hated every minute of it. But you just don’t realize how much it can affect you.”
‘OK. LET’S GO’
While Trainor sat in the dark and rested, her teammates’ season continued.
“That’s what I missed the most: The team and just being on that field,” she said. “I knew I’d be back, but for a little while it felt like I wasn’t on the team.
“But they made me realize I was.”
The first game Trainor missed, Stafford coach Dani Warters said the Indians played with their goalie in mind.
“We really centered around her,” Warters said. “We really played for her, and [backup goalie] Michelle Danek got so fired up to play for her.”
Trainor just tried to relax. She took pride watching Danek—a player she’s tried to mentor—shine when given a chance to play.
Trainor failed the concussion test three times before she was cleared to return. And when she got back into the cage, she said she felt nervous.
“I was actually scared more to go out and play and be on that line,” she said. “I was scared I was going to let down my team.”
Last Friday marked a turning point.
The Indians were playing First Colonial in the 6A–South region championship game. Stafford would eventually lose, 5–0, but Trainor’s exceptional performance kept the game close until a late surge by the Patriots.
“She was outstanding,” Warters said. “She and the defense were the reason we were in it in the first half.”
Trainor said it was during that game she finally felt like she was back. In one flurry of action, she stopped two quick shots and then made a great stick save to turn away a First Colonial goal.
“I was like, ‘OK. Let’s go,’” she said. “I stopped and appreciated that moment, just that tenth of a second.
“I think it’s life-changing,” Trainor said, reflecting on her accident. “It made me appreciate everything 10 times more.”
Stephanie Trainor loves field hockey, too, and loves to see her daughter out there stopping shots and playing well.
“It’s hard for us as parents,” she said. “We’re competitors, too, and we want to see them out there.
“But I know she was lucky to be alive and to be walking. That kind of puts it in perspective. She had several angels riding with her that day.”
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045