Teaghan Dishman still has vivid memories of Jan. 23, the night she had her “biggest fear” injury. A quick look at Delta’s girls basketball schedule from last season confirms the date, but she needs no such help. She remembers it by heart.
She can point to the exact place in Delta’s gymnasium where the injury happened. She can describe the play in vivid detail. She remembers how her mother accidentally went to Yorktown’s gym, mistaken about the location of the game. Her mother then made her way to the correct school, only to see her daughter on the bench, visibly upset about her injury.
Dishman then had to hobble from the bench to the training room. She remembers the conversation she had in that room. Her mother told her things would be OK. The trainer knew she was facing something serious. Dishman eventually learned she torn her ACL. A three-sport athlete who plays volleyball, basketball and tennis, Dishman always considered the injury to be something of a worst-case scenario.
As she describes it, biology forces an athlete to take her time with this ailment. For Dishman, there always seems to be another game to play, another sports season ready to begin. She missed the rest of the basketball season and all of her junior season on the tennis court.
The actual process of trying to come back from the injury lived up to her horrible billing. There were frequent trips to New Castle to work through the rehab process with private trainer Tony Cox. But Dishman seems to be coming out on the other side of the process now. She is practicing with her volleyball teammates. Speaking after a recent practice, she said she is ready to play in her team’s first match of the season Tuesday against Madison-Grant.
“I’m ready to go,” she said.
Dishman is coming off a junior season in which she logged 558 digs as the Eagles’ libero. Delta coach Heidi Zickgraf said she has been impressed with the way Dishman has handled the setback, working hard and maintaining a positive attitude. Zickgraf is non-committal about when exactly she thinks Dishman will be back and how exactly Dishman will be re-integrated into the lineup. She says she is pleased with the various options she has in her back row, even if Dishman is not in the mix.
No matter what challenge Dishman might be facing, Zickgraf said she never seems to be down.
“She hides things well,” Zickgraf said. “She definitely has had a lot of challenges in her life that she’s had to overcome, but not a lot of people would know that. I think she hides them really well, and just pushes through. Because, like I said, I think it’s what she wants.”
The torn ACL is not the first challenge Dishman has faced in her life. She balances her busy athletic schedule with her vigorous academic load, and she is one of the top students in her class academically. During her junior year, she was one of 10 national finalists for the U.S. Army Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence, a recognition of her all-around pursuits.
With her varied background in sports, the torn ACL was not the first time she had been through an athletic injury. She can quickly rattle off a list. She broke her right arm three times. She broke her pinky finger once at recess as a young child, she says matter-of-factly.
But Dishman has faced a much bigger challenge in life than any of her sports injuries. Her father passed away suddenly when she was in middle school. Dave Dishman was her role model, she says, then modifies her statement to say that he is still her role model today. He played basketball and baseball, so she was interested in both sports.
She still plays basketball, and played baseball against boys as a young child because she wanted to be like her dad. It was only when she was no longer allowed to play baseball like her dad that she made the move over to tennis, after a brief stint as a softball player.
“That’s still why I play basketball, is because every time I step out on the court, I know it’s for him,” Dishman said. “I know he’d be proud of me.”
While a torn ACL fit her worst nightmare scenario as an athlete, Dishman said the loss of her father has given her a perspective on such setbacks in life.
“That was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” Dishman said about the loss of her father. “He was really close with me and everything, he was like my best friend. I feel like it’s made me the person I am today, and it’s helped me see things in a positive point of view, instead of negatively.”
Plenty has changed for Dishman since her father passed away. When Dishman was in ninth grade, Ericka Pursley transferred to Delta. The pair have become close friends, sharing a passion for playing multiple sports. They are teammates in volleyball and basketball, and Pursley plays softball in the spring while Dishman plays tennis. They are also both ranked highly in the senior class academically, often studying together.
Dishman is facing some uncertainty in her life as well. She is still sorting out her plans for beyond high school, going through a wide-open college decision process. She said she is interested in playing a sport in college, but is uncertain of any details regarding where she will go, whether she will play a sport, and which sport she might play. Zickgraf believes college volleyball is still a realistic goal for Dishman, even with the injury the senior had to face.
Another believer Dishman has is Pursley, who extends a vote of confidence in Dishman for wherever life takes her after Delta, if it involves playing a sport in college or just focusing on academics.
“She’s capable of doing either,” Pursley said. “Whatever she wants, I think she can do it. If she puts her mind to it, she’s going to do it.”
Contact prep sports reporter Sam Wilson at (765) 213-5807. Follow him on Twitter @SamWilsonTSP.
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