Time Away Gives Neenah Athlete Time to Learn


Kaitlyn Nelson, Student of Journalism

Through injury and time away, volleyball has taught Addie Barnes many lifelong lessons about leadership, relationships, patience and dedication.

With her unbelievable talent, she makes varsity as a freshman and has been on the court ever since. That’s why the ultimate learning curve for her was taking time off the court to learn how to be a supportive teammate from the sidelines.

Addie will play collegiate volleyball at Loyola University Chicago, major in education, and become a passionate elementary school teacher, but before that, she faces a major setback.

Every breath begins to get harder. She reaches for air. Although thoughts flood her brain, she feels trapped in slow motion. She signals to her coach that she’s struggling.

She admits: “It was so scary. I was experiencing sharp pains, and it felt like I was having a heart attack.”

As the senior outside hitter, she leaves the game with a collapsed lung during the volleyball match against Kimberley. Unfortunately, the Neenah Rockets lose the conference champions to them. Addie feels like she has let the whole team down.

She has no choice but to go to the hospital where she is given the devastating news that she will be out for about a month.

With a positive mindset, she is ready to endure the time away.

The practices, games and tournaments go by, and the Rockets fall into a losing streak.

Her positive mindset turns into frustration.

With nothing she can do on the court, her heart is broken. The hardest part is the fact that this injury is one that does not require physical therapy — only rest.

Easing back into volleyball after the stressful month away, she returns to the court. The court feels like coming home. Back on the court, she finally feels reconnected to the team.

Again, she belongs.