The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 3, 2013

Lucky No. 13? Return to volleyball has Mapleton girl pushing through recovery

Sabrina Bushlack’s favorite number is still 13, despite the lucklessness she endured one summer day when a careless driver left her for dead on an Indiana street.

Still 13, even after all that?

Why not? she reasons, because if you look at it another way, she’s lucky to be alive.

The Mapleton resident and senior at St. Mary’s University in Winona has returned to college and her volleyball squad teammates much sooner than her doctors had surmised.

“They said, ‘Don’t even think about coming back for a year,’” she says.

But they underestimated the will of an athlete who doesn’t want her volleyball days to end until her body tells her so.

And since the accident, she’s essentially been telling it to hold off on any call of surrender until she’s sweated through all the requisite rehab.

“I’m going about this as if I’ll play again.”

She hopes to rejoin her team for its preseason training regimens leading up to the fall volleyball schedule. That’s when she’ll have that inner chat with herself.

Her coach Mike Lester says he wouldn’t bet against her.

“She’s such a hard-working kid. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she could come back. Our hope right now is that she can join us this spring on a limited basis.”

Meantime, the United South Central High graduate who hopes to be a large-animal veterinarian is working out daily to up her percentages. By her estimates, she has 80 percent of her memory back and 60 percent of her strength.

Not bad, considering the crash put her into total respiratory failure, necessitated a nine-day coma, fractured her skull, erased five weeks of her memory, and forced her to spend 50 days in hospitals.

All because a 24-year-old woman suspected of driving drunk blew through a red light on a Fort Wayne, Ind., street and plowed broadside into a taxi Bushlack was riding in.

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