Ball State high jumper’s return from injury put on hold

After recovering from her first major injury, Hailley Peters was ready to high jump again.

The 2017 Trinity Lutheran High School graduate who now competes for Ball State University’s track and field team started training for the outdoor season at the end of February.

She was high jumping twice a week and rotating a sprint or bike workout the other days of the week. Plus, the team lifted weights four times a week and had general strength circuits.

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On March 12, though, Peters and her teammates were in the weight room when their coach received a call and had to stop their workout.

The season was canceled because of the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was initially shocked because I didn’t believe that they could cancel the track season for the rest of the year, but after looking around at the tears running down my teammates’ faces, I knew this was real and actually happening,” Peters said. “Knots started building in my gut as I realized everything I had worked for to be back for outdoor season was being taken away from me.”

It was a huge impact on Peters because she said track and field is such a big part of her life.

“Without having practice almost every day or traveling to meets almost every weekend, I had to fill my time in other ways and start working out at home,” she said. “The adjustment has been hard but doable. I think this is just a crazy time for everyone, which makes it even more important to appreciate those around you and not take for granted God’s blessings.”

At the end of February, the Cardinals earned the program’s best finish at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships since the 2009 season with a third-place showing out of 12 teams.

The outdoor season was set to start March 21 at the Stan Lyons Invitational at Butler University, but the virus pandemic forced the cancellation of all spring sports.

“My goal after my surgery was to be jumping and competing in indoor meets, but my recovery took longer than I expected, so I was waiting until outdoor season to be able to come back better than ever,” Peters said. “I wanted more than anything to get a personal record this outdoor season and score points at our MAC championship.”

Instead, Peters said she is focusing on her schoolwork, getting a job and trying to spend quality time with loved ones while still practicing social distancing.

“I work out almost every day in my home or doing outdoor activities, trying to focus on maintaining everything I had worked for so I can be ready for when we start practicing again,” she said.

Peters, a junior, is taking her four nursing courses online for the remainder of the semester.

“The adjustment has been strange because I definitely prefer to take care of real patients in a health care setting, but I guess online case studies and virtual simulations will do for now,” she said.

Peters had surgery in November 2019 due to nerve damage from jumping. She participated in track and field all four years at Trinity Lutheran, where she was a sectional champion, a two-time state qualifier and a school record holder in the high jump.

“I have not had to sit out for any major injuries in the past, so this was a new and strange experience for me because I’m not the type of person to sit on the sidelines and watch other people do work,” Peters said of missing the indoor season. “It was challenging for me to take on a new role of supporting my teammates from the outside without actually going through practice and competition with them.”

She said her recovery process involved being on crutches for weeks, being in a boot for a month and basically relearning how to walk on the foot she injured.

“I had to undergo a lot of physical therapy to rebuild the muscles in my foot and leg, but the hardest part besides being in so much pain was trying to do normal activities again independently,” she said. “Luckily, I had a wonderful support system who was there for me. I was away from practice for about six weeks, but I had to do modified workouts for two months after I got back because I was still recovering.”

Since the outdoor season is canceled, Peters is going to work hard to have a strong senior year.

“I am looking forward to just being able to compete and being a part of the team again. I love traveling to colleges all over the Midwest and being able to jump against competitive athletes,” she said.

“I would just like to thank my family, boyfriend and friends for always being so supportive and loving. I know they were just as excited for me to start competing again because they come to all my meets, and it broke my heart when I had to tell them the bad news,” she said. “Most importantly, I would not be where I am today without the good Lord giving me everything I have.”