Slemmer overcomes two ACLs

Ashleigh Slemmer has something to prove every time she steps inside Oakland University’s Athletics Center Orena.

Despite having suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in both of her knees, she continues to compete on Oakland’s volleyball team looking for every opportunity to make an impact.

Slemmer arrived to Oakland in 2008 after a prolific high school career in which she earned an All-State Selection and played in Ohio’s state Division I all-star game.

However, she suffered a season-ending torn ACL as a freshmen in 2008, and then another one as a sophomore.

Head Coach Rob Beam himself had two ACL surgeries and believes the fact that Slemmer is still playing Division I collegiate volleyball after two serious injuries is remarkable.

“I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for Ashleigh to tear both of her ACLs back to back,” said Adrienne Leone, a former teammate. “I just tore one and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Slemmer described her rehab after her first injury as a “long process.” She would spend two hours each day rehabilitating.

“It’s definitely made me stronger,” she said, crediting the Athletic Republic, where she was able to receive individualized physical training.

Slemmer admits that after her second injury it was easier to recover physically.

However, her second recovery took more of an emotional toll and there were times where she would sit in her car in tears after games because she was unable to play.

In spite of this, Slemmer continued to play volleyball as she could not ignore her love for the game.

In addition, she has learned that while certain things are beyond her control there are some things she can control and that is why she is always pushing herself, whether it is on the court or in the weight room.

“She is 100 percent committed to everything she does,” Beam said, who credits Slemmer with being the strongest player in the athletic room.

Slemmer did not suffer any injuries during the 2010 season, but faced a new challenge: the struggle to perform at the level she played at before her second injury.

Beam revealed that when faced with injuries an athlete often recovers more slowly mentally than physically.

There were times when Slemmer struggled to execute plays on the court. She would even spend extensive periods of games on the bench, a situation she was not used to having after being such a key player before.

“It was harder than being hurt,” she said.”I expect a lot from myself.”

Leone believes, however, that Slemmer learned from this experience what type of player and person she is and felt she handled her new role well.

“She didn’t get upset or have an attitude about the fact that she wasn’t getting a ton of playing time,” Leone said. “She cheered on her team and when she got the chance to play she did a great job.”

Slemmer says she intends on returning to form and will trust herself more as a senior this fall. Her teammates look forward to her this and are quick to point out the impact she has on the team.

“As a player, her work ethic impresses me the most,” Bell said. “As a person, I am impressed at how high of a standard she holds herself to in everything she does.”