Ready to compete: Owls’ Henry, Tigers’ Pilgrim eyeing returns to local volleyball teams

Greer Henry and Hayden Pilgrim have a lot in common.

They are both members of their respective Jackson County volleyball teams, Henry at Seymour and Pilgrim at Crothersville. Both are currently sidelined due to ACL injuries suffered during the basketball season last winter.

Pilgrim injured her right knee Dec. 2 during a game against Cannelton, while Henry injured her right knee Jan. 28 in practice while preparing for a sectional game.

“I tore it in practice when I was going up for a layup,” Henry said. “Then I had surgery on Feb. 8. After surgery, I was on crutches for a few weeks, and then I had physical therapy at the hospital. It was flexibility and extension I worked on for the first few months, but then I really started getting into physical activity about a month or two ago.”

She said she worked with a trainer during the summer. If Henry had been healthy during the spring, she said she would have been playing club volleyball.

Henry said she tried to do some drills during the Munciana Camp the week of July 21, mostly stationary passing drills and serving.

She works out some with her Seymour teammates.

“I get into a lot of practice,” she said. “Usually, I stay out of game play. I’ll serve during that. I’ve had some setbacks, but I’m starting to build strength back. That’s what I’m working on right now, my extension. I’m starting to jump and do lateral movements a little bit. “

She was the Owls’ libero her sophomore year.

“I’ll probably start in the back row, but gradually, I’ll get to playing in the front row,” Henry said.

Pilgrim recalled the play in which she was injured.

“The other team was shooting free throws, and I got the rebound off of one of them and I was taking off for a layup and got toward the basketball goal. I tried stopping, and my knee buckled,” she said.

“I had surgery on Jan. 23. I had physical therapy a week after, and I was immobilized for a week,” she said. “I had physical therapy three times a week. This went on for two or three months. When I got to the fourth month, they said I only had to do physical therapy once a week. My mom got a trainer and she worked with me, and she still continues to work with me.”

Pilgrim said she started training in Bloomington, but recently, she has been working with a trainer in Seymour. She also said she is planning to meet her doctor Thursday night and is hoping to be cleared to play Friday night in Austin.

Pilgrim, who was planning on running on the track in the spring, said, “I got cleared to practice. They said my knee is way stronger than what it was, and they were really happy about my progress.”

Both players said they will wear a knee brace for at least the remainder of this season.

Pilgrim said, “I have a ‘cage’ brace that I use. The surgeon that I went with told me that I didn’t need a brace, but if I felt more comfortable with one, then I should get one. I feel a lot safer because when I play volleyball and basketball, I just don’t want to hurt it again.”

Henry said she would wear a brace.

“It’s mostly mental. I think I’ll feel comfortable with a brace on, and physically, I think it’s best for me,” she said.

Both players said they miss being on the floor with their teammates.

Pilgrim is a sophomore and would have been starting again this season.

“I miss being able to play and the environment, playing on the court with my team,” she said. “I’m a middle hitter. When I come back, my coach said I might be playing on the right side.”

She said starting out, she will probably play in the front row, then play all-around later on.

“I’ve fallen in love (with volleyball) because of the competitiveness of it,” Pilgrim said. “I really like how it is a fast-paced game and it’s not a physical game like basketball, but I still like how competitive it is and the teamwork.”

Henry said she’s taking it day by day.

“The last thing I want to do is rush it and redo it again,” she said. “I think I’m going to try and take it slower because I have basketball season, too. I have to really get my strength back and get my legs the same. The doctors said I need to have my legs 90% the same when I go back to sports, so that is what I’m working on now.”

She has an appointment with her doctor on Monday to see what her next step is. She said she has done some swimming to strengthen her knee.

“I started getting into leadership. I think the club season really helped me gain leadership,” Henry said. “It’s hard for me not being on the court and helping my team. I just miss being on the court with them. I enjoy it so much. It’s really hard for me to sit and watch.”

Seymour hosts a sectional this season, and Henry said she is hoping to play in it.