ATHLETE INTERVIEWS

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Kaylyn Schultz

Shantal is a Spanish surfer who left her hometown in the Canary Islands and moved to Bali five years ago. She has always been involved in water sports, and her father was a professional windsurfer. Since she was a baby, Shantal would travel around the world with her parents, searching for the perfect wind conditions. She loves the way surfing connects her with her father - although it is not exactly the same as windsurfing, they still feel connected by the ocean. For Shantal, the waters calm her and give her energy - the waters mean the world to her.


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Kaylyn shares her achilles tendon experience

1. Can you share your injury story?

I tore my left achilles tendon while playing football in a game for charity. In March, I signed up to play in a football game that serves as the major annual fundraising event for an organization here in Waco that supports the Alzheimer's Association. It's all women playing an 8-on-8 game. We even had a draft, then a skills assessment and 6 weeks of practice leading up to the game. It was so much fun and I loved every minute.

May 4th was game day. In the second quarter of the game, my team was down by a touchdown. I was playing both sides the whole game and was on defense at the time. I was reading the play, knew she was going to pass it and it was coming to my side. I was SO ready for that interception and absolutely believe I could have scored off of it. I had my left foot back ready to sprint forward and when I pushed off hard, my Achilles tendon tore completely. I heard the loud pop and collapsed on the turf.

At first, I don't think my brain wanted to believe what had happened, but when I tried to move my foot, I knew the tendon was gone. The stands went dead, all the players took a knee and I had to be mostly carried off the field. I'd never been carried off a field or court in my life.

2. What has been the hardest part of the recovery so far?

I've been an athlete all my life. I played multiple sports in high school then high jumped for Baylor University Track & Field. I've always been very active. I rely on it for my mental and physical well-being. And I just love it. The first two weeks after surgery, I was in a splint, mostly confined to bed. The next two weeks I was in a cast, then one month in a walking boot. I've had to really focus on not being on my feet too much at work. It has been incredibly tough to limit my movement, to rest, to be still, to become 'out of shape' as I recover. I am 3 months post surgery and I'm still working on walking normally. I've really had to work on being patient with myself and this very long process.

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3. What advice can you share with others dealing with the same injuries?

My advice is to focus on what you're doing for recovery today. Focus on this week. Be disciplined and take it one step at a time. Once my surgeon had confirmed my Achilles had completely ruptured, he told me it would be 9-12 months before I'd be back to where I was doing explosive activity and sports. I can't think about month 9, 10, 11, etc. I'm thinking about what I'm going to do today to get better and what I'm going to accomplish this week in PT. One step at a time.


4. What have you learned through this experience?

Through this experience I've learned how important positivity is for recovery. Positive affirmations, thinking positive thoughts, focusing on the good is all a form of fuel for getting through this injury and becoming even stronger because of it. I've learned how much grit I have. Because of that grit, I will make a full recovery and then become an even stronger athlete.

5. What's your biggest dream after making a full comeback?

I have a list. After I make a full comeback, I want to run my first 5k. I want to go hiking and wake-boarding again. I want to travel to Europe with my mom and walk around all the sights wherever we go like a complete tourist. I want a new back squat PR. I want to dance again, go to a yoga class. I want to play basketball again, high jump again and absolutely play football again.

Thank you Kaylyn for sharing your story and helping to inspire athletes across the globe!