Westlake’s Johnson ready to return from injury after new type surgery

Westlake’s Jena Johnson had 14 kills on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 to lead her team to a bi-district playoff win over Berwick.

Rodrick Anderson Prep Sports Reporter
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Westlake multi-sport star Jena Johnson started off her junior year leading the Rams volleyball team to the LHSAA state tournament and won Division III, District I MVP honors.

Then a freak injury nearly ended her high school career. But after surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in her right arm, Johnson is ready to lead the Rams back to the state tournament.

“I am thrilled and I can’t wait,” Johnson said.

Playing in the second to last game of the season for the Ram basketball team in February, Johnson went up for a rebound and tore the ligament after a collision with another player.

“I was going in to get the ball, someone came up on one side of my arm and jumped into my elbow and I tore my UCL,” Johnson said. “I right then and there I knew something was wrong. 

“I just shook it off. I finished up the game and then saw the trainer after the game. After that we went to the doctor. The doctor said it was probably the worst tear he had ever seen.”

Instead of the standard Tommy John surgery that would have kept her from playing her final season at Westlake, Johnson opted for a newer surgery, performed by Dr. George Trappey IV, were the ligament is repaired rather than replaced, allowing for a shorter recovery time.

“I would have had Tommy John surgery which would have put me out my senior year,” Johnson said. “But there was a new surgery that would repair my ligament so I could be back for volleyball. 

“They weave a bunch of stitches together and attach that to the ligament, so I have that inside of my elbow. It was kind of a scare, but everything turned out ok.”

While recovering, Johnson, a two-time 4-3A All-district first team member at center field, had to settle for cheering from the sidelines as the softball team reached state tournament for the second consecutive year, but she learned a few things at the same time.

I have learned not to take playing sports in high school for granted,” Johnson said. “Once you are out, you have to sit there and watch your team go on. 

“Sitting out the softball season, it was very hard not to play with them going all the way to state. Just sitting out for summer for volleyball is really hard.”

Johnson has been cleared to practice at defensive positions and will resume her spot as the Rams’ middle hitter, where she averaged double-digit kills last season, once her arm brace arrives. She s

“The doc said I could practice but only back row,” Johnson said. “I am going to have to wear a brace in order to hit. Once that brace comes in, I can play everywhere. 

“I have hit a little bit. It is like riding a bike. It will take some practice to be full back but they say I will recover 100 percent with my elbow.”

Johnson hopes to be able to earn a scholarship to play volleyball at the college level.

“I like volleyball the most,” Johnson said. “That is the one that I would like to pursue in college if I could. I have had scouts call asking.”

Johnson feels that both the volleyball and softball team will be strong enough this school year to return to the state tournament and compete for a championship.

“I expect us to be back this year,” Johnson said. “We have a pretty strong group this year and I feel like we can make it all the way and win state, even in softball. 

“We only had one senior in softball. We have a good chance to be good in both sports this year.”

 

‘The doctor said it was probably the worst tear he had ever seen.’

Jena Johnson

Westlake volleyball player

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