Injured: Finding Myself Amidst Losing Volleyball


"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

When I got the call my ACL was torn, I was wrecked to my core. I never felt good about myself with anything but volleyball. School was never a priority, and my hobbies and social life all revolved around my sport. I felt a sense of emptiness, as if a huge portion of my identity was missing. I watched my teammates work out and play volleyball as my life outside of volleyball began. But this "outside life" was the jump start to a complete mind, soul, and body renovation.

The first 3 months without volleyball resulted in anxiety and depression. I looked in the mirror and did not recognize myself. As an athlete of almost 12 years, volleyball was all I knew, it was all I was. Therefore, without the sport meant I was no one. My heart couldn't accept that. I was in search of my identity in things that were temporary. A sport, which I will always love, is not who I am. And that was a tough pill to swallow. More specifically: Stepping back and realizing the one thing you have always known how to do is not what you should put all your happiness into.

I watched my teammates get better, as I sat from the training room window and wondered if I would ever be good like that again. As I recovered, I began to realize that my goal shouldn't just be to get my knee stronger to become the best at volleyball. Instead, as I took a step back, I realized my physical brokenness was a chance to break free from hiding myself. I stopped holding back, I stopped keeping quiet about my struggles, and I began to transform into a new Blair, the girl who was more than an athlete. Opening up to others about my anxiety and depression was life changing. I was amazed to find out the number of athletes who suffer from this as well - I wasn't the only one in search of my identity. Many athletes are lost and don’t know which way to turn. My selfishness was exposed: all I wanted to do was be the best athlete, not make others around me better. Therefore, my mission changed from being the best athlete, to the best teammate and cheerleader. And through all of this, I found the Lord.

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Little did I know, this trial was preparing me for an even greater challenge coming my junior year. Turns out, not everyone comes back from a knee injury, and I was one of those people. I had my second knee surgery 6 months ago, and it was a make or break moment. If I didn't recover well, I wouldn't be able to play my senior year. I thought this outcome would break me. For five months of rehab I asked God daily: "why?" But when the time came to decide if I could play or not, saying “no” came a lot easier than I thought. I knew God was calling me to rest. He had prepared me the last two years for this moment, and I was confident in who I was and I was able to walk away from volleyball. I am not saying this was easy in any way, there were many tears and lots of chocolate involved. However, I am okay because God showed me who I am through all of this heartbreak.

My college career was nothing like I planned, but it forced me to be brave, to trust God and most importantly, to love myself without volleyball.

My message to anyone reading this is: JUMP. Break away from this identity you are so consumed with. You are not only an athlete.  That person inside you itching to break out is way more powerful than you could ever imagine. Love others passionately, love yourself, but most importantly love the Lord with all you have. He is your everlasting Father, who has made you to love others and use your platform for His glory.

I urge you to love what you do, but never forget who you are.

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Blair Westerlund

Hi! I'm Blair and I played volleyball at The University of Texas. I am a soon to be senior majoring in Youth & Community Studies with a focus on Special Populations and a minor in Educational Psychology. I love working with kids, being with my friends and working out.