WICHITA, Kan.—The road to playing varsity volleyball at Wichita East wasn’t simple for junior middle hitter Hanna Ewart.
Ewart, who suffered from scoliosis for a year, underwent surgery in the summer of 2009, the summer before her freshman year.
“My parents thought it was because I wasn’t standing up straight,” she said. “In reality, my spine was growing and my body wasn’t.”
The surgery involved the placement of metal rods along both sides of Ewart’s spine that were fused to her vertebrae. In addition to the rods, several screws were put in at the bottom of her spine.
“I was a little scared,” Ewart said. “I was worried I wouldn’t be able to play volleyball at all.”
Both surgery and recovery lasted longer than expected, however results were worth the wait. As a result of the surgery, Ewart grew an inch and half.
Her freshman year at East, unable to compete in volleyball, Ewart served as team manager. She helped shag balls in practices and took statistics during games.
“I enjoyed being manager,” said Ewart. “I was able to be with the team and be a part of their success.”
After making a full recovery, Ewart competed with the team in the 2010 season, her sophomore year
“The best part was being able to play again,” said Ewart. “We beat teams we normally didn’t that year.”
In this her junior year at East, Ewart was a part of the team that made it the furthest in postseason play for several years. The team beat Derby in the first round of sub-state before being eliminated by Washburn Rural, who went on to win 6A state.
“I enjoyed being able to play with girls that were experienced in their playing abilities,” said Ewart. “Nobody on the team struggled as a player.”
Since the surgery Ewart hans’t faced any challenges with her back. She plans to play volleyball in college and hopefully even further.
The surgery taught Ewart several lessons in facing adversity and setbacks as an athlete.
“I learned that you should take advantage in the abilities that you have,” Ewart says. “You don’t always know what you have until you lose it.”