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NAIT Ooks women’s volleyball player hopes one more comeback is in the cards

By Admin User on December 13, 2019

Taylor Card is back on the bench coaching for the NAIT Ooks Women’s Volleyball Team this year, but not by her own choice. A major injury derailed her comeback season after a year away from playing the game she loves.

Taylor Card lives at the net when on the court playing as a middle for the Ooks.

In 2018-19, Card made the tough decision to prioritize school and work over volleyball. She chose not to play on the team and took a coaching role instead.

The 2019-2020 season should have been Card’s year. She returned to the court with a season long goal of being an all-star. But, only one set into her comeback year, it ended before it began.

“I didn’t know what happened, I thought someone stepped on my foot, that was the sound I heard. I turned around and no one was there so I told the girls something was wrong. I hopped straight to the bench even though we won the set knowing I wasn’t okay,” Card remembered.

Making sense of pain

Card tore her Achilles tendon which carries a recovery time of four to six months. It can take up to a year to get back to normal strength. Being sidelined for the season was devastating for Card.

Instead of lacing up her shoes to play volleyball, Taylor Card wears a cast up her leg to cover her injured left leg.

“For lack of a better term, my entire world came crashing down and it was not fun to hear. The first week was tough, I was sad and depressed and couldn’t stop crying, I was a mess,” Card said.

But, Taylor Card has never taken no for an answer. A couple weeks after the injury, she returned to the team as an assistant coach. Despite the fact that she couldn’t play, she hoped to help the team in another capacity.

Card is coaching for the Ooks, but her impact is felt off the court too.

“The thing I always tell them is not to give up. Try and try again and if it doesn’t work, keep going,” Card said.

Card is rehabbing her leg while coaching for the Ooks.

Fourth year player Emma Norenberg has seen Card as a player and coach. Norenberg said the team has benefited from having her around in both capacities.   

“She’s like my mom. Volleyball related or not volleyball related, I go to her for everything in life, a lot of our team does,” Norenberg said. 

Jumping off point

Before NAIT, Card’s love for volleyball began in Barrhead, Alberta. Card pointed to her dad as her volleyball hero and the biggest influence on her as an athlete. 

Card got her love of sports from her dad. Image provided by Taylor Card.

“From a young age, I was good at sports, so that was the thing for me. When I was a swimmer, I wanted him to see I was really strong and winning competitions and working hard to prove to him that I was really good at this. That transferred into volleyball,” said Card.

Card started playing volleyball in grade seven in junior high and excelled in high school. Making a college or university team was her dream all along. Card went all out in grade 11 to train her skills for the next level. But she said it wasn’t easy to stand out coming from outside the city.

“If you want to get anywhere coming from a small town, you have to shine big time in order for people to see you. It’s very hard,” Card said. 

A medal at Nationals capped off her grade 12 year and put Card on the map. Unfortunately for her, the recruiting process wasn’t as smooth at first. 

The Recruiting Process

“One school offered me a big scholarship, a starting position but at the end of the day, I just didn’t see a future there. If you want to go play post-secondary, you want to go play for a successful team. It didn’t work out at another school either, so that was frustrating,” said Card.

She hoped to follow in her father’s footsteps in the oil business, applying for the Petroleum Engineering Program at NAIT. Card also attended an ID camp put on by Ooks women’s volleyball head coach Benj Heinrichs. But, she didn’t make the team. Card missed out on making the roster next season. She didn’t play in her first year of college and that could have been it for her volleyball journey. 

New Teammates

But, Taylor Card has never taken no for an answer. Another year spent honing her craft paid dividends as she made the team in her second year of college. Card remembers the excitement and not having much time to celebrate. 

“It was Thursday night and he talked with us after practice and basically gave us a ‘congratulations, this is your new team. We’re leaving for Olds at 9 a.m. tomorrow, you better be ready,’” Card remembered.

“I think the first thing I did was calling my dad of course because my dad is the big time and then I called my mom. I’m sure I cried but it was a really gratifying time for sure.”

The work didn’t stop for Card after she made the team. She appeared in 9 matches in the 2016-17 season for her first action as an Ook. Only a year later, Card played in 20 matches and more than tripled her kills, going from 20 to 99. 

“It taught me to be resilient and to not give up on what you want to do. If I would have given up, I would have never made the team and had all the connections I have today,” Card said. 

Difficult Decisions

When her work schedule changed, Card knew she wanted to get back to playing. Emma Norenberg was one of her biggest supporters during the comeback.

Taylor Card missed the court too much to stay retired.

“I told her to get her [butt] in gear and come play. There was one time where she had almost talked herself out of it. I was like ‘nope, sorry, we plan to have you on the team.’ It would have had a big impact if she didn’t come back and play,” Norenberg said.

Card is still unsure if one more comeback is in her future. She’s not ruling anything out, but getting back to 100 per cent is her number one priority.  The NAIT Ooks women’s volleyball team return to the court on Friday, January 10.

Taylor Card is working hard to get her leg back to being 100 per cent but that won’t happen overnight.
Leading a healthy lifestyle infographic by jdhui9412



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