It was just another game to Kayla Brockway. She had no idea she was about to reach a milestone in her career.
Brockway thought it was another regular assist, just like the hundreds she had made before, but when teammate Emma Boughner made the kill, people immediately began to cheer and take pictures of her, and it only dawned on her what she had just achieved when people held up signs congratulating her.
Despite a recent injury to her hand, the senior volleyball player reached a milestone of 4,000 assists during a game on GC Senior Day, an accomplishment she credits to her teammates.
“Honestly, I had no idea I was even close to that,” Brockway said. “It’s never really been something that I kept track of . . . I just go out there and play and have fun, that’s really my goal.”
Brockway was unaware, but her team was not. Brockway said they played an active role in her success and knew exactly how many assists she needed to reach 4,000.
“Everyone really wanted me to get it on Senior Day, so looking back, I can see how hard everybody tried, like, to make sure every time I set them, they were getting a kill,” Brockway said.
Setters only get assists when the player they set gets a point, and Brockway made sure her team was given credit.
“I get an assist, they get a kill, so it’s really kudos to my team for helping me get to that because I genuinely couldn’t do it without anybody else,” Brockway said.
Head women’s coach Gretchen Krumdieck said of Brockway’s achievement, “That’s a big milestone. That’s about 1,000 a year . . and she’s pretty much set every match [since her freshman year] except one.”
Krumdieck praised Brockway’s athleticism and fearlessness on the court, as well as her skill as a setter.
“She just sees the court really well, so she does a good job of getting her hitters into really good positions to be successful,” Krumdieck said.
Brockway’s milestone is especially impressive in light of a recent injury to her right hand.
It occurred Sept. 29, when the Bobcats played UNC Pembroke. Brock- way and a teammate were going for the same ball when they collided. The other player accidentally grabbed Brockway’s pinkie and twisted it as she tried to get the ball, resulting in a knockout fracture.
Brockway’s knuckle is currently positioned lower than it should be, but, ac- cording to Krumdieck, “she hasn’t skipped a beat.”
“I have a cast that I stay in at all times, and then game cast I play with that keeps it more straight,” Brockway said. “I just set a little different now, something I had to get used to quickly.”
She had only six days between receiving the inju- ry and her next game, with only one practice day be- tween. The worst part was the uncertainty of whether or not she could continue to play.
“I was completely devastated because I just thought everything was over,” Brockway said. “I thought everything, all the work I’ve put into this season being great, was gone.”
Fortunately, the hand specialist Brockway sees every two weeks has been willing to work with her and has allowed her to contin- ue playing. The game cast she’s required to wear on the eld has half an inch of padding to minimize direct impact on the injury.
Brockway has received lots of support and encouragement from her team.
“The support from my team and everyone around me, knowing what I was going through . . . everyone knows how much I love this sport, [their support] really helps me in the men- tal sense,” Brockway said.
The clunky cast has had some effect on her setting technique, but it was noth- ing the athlete was unable to work through.
“As far as setting, I’ve set for so long, I was able to gure out how to time it,” Brockway said. “Instead of just letting the ball come and just going, I have to track it, track it and then go. So it’s just something that I’m able to [do] because I’ve played so long.”
Krumdieck has helped Brockway adjust to playing in a cast but only “just a little bit.”
“I just basically had to give her more reps be- fore matches and during practice,” Krumdieck said. “Like, she’ll have to go back and like set against a wall, and like during match warm ups, I toss her a lot of balls . . . more than what she normally does.”
Brockway mentioned that if she had received the same injury in high school or during her freshman year, she may not have been able to adapt. At the very least, it would have taken more time.
Her modi ed technique has improved, but the cast still frustrates her at times.
Brockway said she gets called for more doubles now because if she times her play wrong, the ball hits her left hand and then her cast. When this happens, the opposite team automatically gets a point.
Before each game, a teammate helps Brockway write two Bible scriptures on her cast: 2 Corinthians 12:10 and Matthew 19:26. Her favorite is 2 Corinthians 12:10, which she has come to lean on to cope with the injury. The NIV translation is, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in per- secutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“So it’s just saying you lean on God, you lean on Christ, when you go through persecutions or hardships or anything like that, and this is definitely one that as a college ath- lete everyone gets,” Brockway said “And I mean, even as someone who’s played high school sports, you understand [receiving an injury is] devastating, but if I lean on Christ, then I know that whatever happens is for a reason, and every- thing’s gonna work out.”
Brockway has written scriptures on her hand and wrist before every game since freshman year.
“Now I just put them on my cast,” Brockway said. “It just exempli es even more the verse, so I think that’s super cool how that worked out, kind of.”
Brockway will likely play the rest of this season in the cast and may be advised to continue wearing her everyday cast as well. She said her doctors are considering surgery after this season to repair her knuckle because despite precaution, continuing to play has been a small det- riment to the healing process.
“It’s healing wrong since this knuckle’s in the wrong spot [because] it’s lower,” Brockway said. “That’s why they’re [hoping to do] sur- gery, so they can re-break it, put it in the right spot [and] put a pin in.”