Taylor Mitchell ‘sets up’ success for her future seasons playing volleyball

Before her injury, junior Taylor Mitchell bumps the ball into the air during a game against Montini Catholic High School.

Lori Bryant

Before her injury, junior Taylor Mitchell bumps the ball into the air during a game against Montini Catholic High School.

Slamming both feet down into the ground, junior Taylor Mitchell stumbles to the ground as she feels her knee buckle from beneath her. Little did she know, Mitchell tore her ACL, causing her to be benched for her junior season at DGS. Persisting through her injury, for the 2022 girls’ varsity volleyball season, Mitchell supports her team from the sidelines as manager.

Mitchell has been playing volleyball at school since joining the A team freshman year. She had planned to try out for the team again for the 2022 season; however, she tore her ACL.

“I was at a tournament in Vernon Hills, and I was playing really good; I was in a slump that week but during the game, I had like three blocks and four kills. They set me the ball, and I hit the ball and landed normally on two feet, but I felt my knee buckle, and it almost felt like my thigh slid into my knee,” Mitchell said.

An ACL tear is not uncommon for volleyball players like Mitchell. She describes what an ACL is and how all athletes can be susceptible.

“An ACL is the ligament in the middle of your knee, they cross over and hold the outside of your femur to the outside of your tibia… it’s very easy to tear for a volleyball player without even doing anything different than normal,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell tore her ACL at the end of last season in March. At the end of her sophomore year, she reached out to the varsity coach, Madisen Babich, asking to stay involved in the DGS volleyball program. Benched for this season, Mitchell takes on the role of the team’s manager.

“It’s been a good experience because I feel like you learn a lot by just watching it. The time away from the court has probably harmed my skill, but I have learned a lot about the strategies and mindset of volleyball through managing,” Mitchell said.

Babich comments on Mitchell’s personality while dealing with the injury at practice and all the work she continues to put in for the team.

“She does literally everything I ask her to do with no questions: she comes up with ideas, she’s always helpful in practice–she runs drills for us and she shows up every day ready to help and support the girls,” Babich said.

Mitchell has a bright view of her future in volleyball, returning to practice in November and getting back into games during March for school and through her club team, New Wave.

“It’s definitely been frustrating at times knowing I couldn’t be on the court playing, but it’s definitely more of a positive experience than negative,” Mitchell said.

The girls’ varsity volleyball season wraps up with the playoffs and the first game being Oct. 25 at home against Lockport. Mitchell will be up there with the team, coaching them to victory.