Adversity is present everyday in our lives, from stressing over a big test to preparing for a big game, or even just deciding to go to class at 8 a.m. Challenges are presented in multiple ways, but it is how we respond to those challenges that make us who we are.
The Lady Choctaws have battled much adversity through the 2017 season, as the team has suffered multiple injuries throughout their first 24 games and have a new head coach. Former head coach Julie Redus stepped down on Oct. 6, and new interim head coach, Holly Tupper, took her place at the helm of the volleyball team.
It has been an adjustment, but Coach Tupper has enjoyed the new leadership. “There has definitely been some adjustment, just my role with the team … but it’s been something I have enjoyed and I get to learn as I go.” Tupper said. Senior defensive specialist Madison Kimes adds on to the switch at head coach, “A lot of changes have been happening so far, but it has been really good,” she said.
Throughout all the changes as the season goes on, players and coaches look to one player that drives them to be the best person they can be, and that person is redshirt freshmen Kaitlyn Wilson. Wilson is from Tupelo, Miss., and last year was diagnosed with Chron’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease which most commonly occurs in the end of the small intestine. Wilson could not play last year because of the disease and it was a difficult process during recovery and treatment. Wilson’s strong spirit and resiliency got her through the trials and tribulations. Wilson did not expect to be back so soon from Chron’s, “It was really hard last semester just thinking that I would not come back to school, much less touch a volleyball court, so it’s been a blessing, even though it hasn’t been my best expectation to how I would be, it’s still a blessing to be back at school,” she said.
Wilson’s attitude impacts the team morals as a whole, and also inspires others to live their lives the same exact way, “She’s the sweetest, most encouraging, and strongest girl you will ever meet … A lot of people are telling her she can’t play volleyball anymore because of her disease, but she still comes out, tries her hardest, and gets everything done. It’s just really inspiring and makes you want to work hard as well,” said Kimes.
Coach Tupper also gives her thoughts on Wilson, “It’s been really impressive seeing her battle on and off the court, overcoming adversity day in and day out showing up even when she does not feel well or it’s been a bad day for her. She shows up and is a great teammate and is committed to making the team better … I’ve been really impressed with her ability to persevere. She’s showed our team what it’s like to persevere and be mentally tough,” said Tupper.
Wilson has not only been an inspiration to her team and all of MC, but she is also hoping to spread awareness to those affected by Chron’s around the world. “It means so much to spread awareness because most people don’t know what Chron’s disease is. When I heard about it, I thought it was just for old people, like, ‘I’m 18, that shouldn’t happen,’ and it just means so much to spread awareness to try and find a cure since it’s not curable yet,” said Wilson. She also has some words for those currently fighting the Chron’s right now, “Stay strong, but also share your stories because most people don’t know about it, and the best thing for awareness and for people to stay strong is to have a support group. It’s definitely good to know people who have had it for quite some time now.”
Brave, strong, joy, and kindness are just a few words Wilson’s peers used to describe her, and she truly shows that by the way she lives and the way she acts. She truly leaves a lasting impact not only on her team, but anybody that sees her as an example of strength and perseverance.