The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 3, 2013

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

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Depressed afterward? Sad? Mad?

“All of the above,” she says.

In July, Bushlack was participating in a Fort Wayne beach volleyball tournament. After a night out on the town, she and her friends got into a cab. Bushlack sat in front, the others in back.

The careening driver smashed into the front-passenger side of the taxi and fled the scene.

Apprehended later, it was learned she was operating an uninsured car, she possessed only a learner’s permit, and the vehicle contained an open alcohol container at the time of the accident.

No one else in the cab was injured, and by a stroke of that “13” luck, a hospital was only four blocks away. That comes in handy when one’s heart stops and paramedics can arrive within moments.

At the hospital, the 5-foot-10 well-conditioned Bushlack says she was a handful after being put into a medically induced coma due to swelling on her brain. In her delirium a team of nurses had to hold her down as she tried to rip IVs from her body.

She was transferred to a Rochester hospital, and months of speech and physical therapy followed.

Her cognitive functions began to improve, sometimes in strange ways.

“I couldn’t remember my mom’s first name. Remembered her middle name, though. And I kept thinking I was in St. Peter.”

Now, her daily workout routine consists of 90 minutes in the gym performing a slew of exercises.

She says during her ordeal she lost 35 pounds — a good deal of that muscle acquired from weightlifting — but has gained back much of it. She’s also working to improve her vertical jump. It was 22 inches pre-accident; it’s 15 inches now.

Although Bushlack says her motivation is driven by her desire to play volleyball again, she harbors no illusions that it’s a done deal.

Whatever happens, her coach says there will be a place for her, either on the team or as an integral part of it.

“With Sabrina, even prior to the accident, she brought so many things to our team beyond the court.”

Including her inspirational jersey — No. 13, naturally — that the team last season placed on the bench at every match.

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