TERRE HAUTE —
Plagued by one injury after another after another, Kristen Seaton was ready to turn off the lights on her volleyball career.
In her mind, the party was over.
Then some good fortune finally came Seaton’s way.
After graduating from Pepperdine University in late April with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and moving back to Terre Haute in May, she learned that interest in her services from NCAA Division I volleyball programs still existed.
“I had been hurt so many times in my college career that I didn’t think anybody would want me anymore,” admitted Seaton, a 2007 Terre Haute South High School graduate, 2007 female McMillan Award winner and 2007 member of the Indiana All-Star volleyball team.
Because she redshirted her sophomore season at Pepperdine with stress fractures in her left foot and she’s graduated, she has one season of athletic eligibility remaining if she enrolls in a graduate program.
Enter Indiana University, which made the 6-foot-5 Seaton a full-scholarship offer she could not refuse. This week, she finalized her decision to play for the Hoosiers and coach Sherry Dunbar in 2011. She’s undecided on a major, but there’s plenty of time to find her niche.
For now, it’s time to celebrate Seaton’s return to volleyball.
“I’m very, very excited,” she emphasized. “It still feels unreal. I just want to play again. This will be my second and last chance. … I’m going to be a pin hitter, either on the outside or on the right side.”
Seaton, 22, selected IU over another Division I university in the Midwest because IU is closer to home. She mentioned that her parents, grandmother and boyfriend Justin Yoho won’t need to travel far to watch her matches.
“That was a big factor,” she stressed.
The upbeat Seaton hopes she can avoid the injuries that devastated her Pepperdine career.
To summarize that once-promising career, Seaton saw plenty of playing time as a freshman in 2007, appearing in 27 matches (12 starts). She averaged 1.88 kills, 0.78 digs, 0.61 blocks and 0.32 aces per game. Against Arkansas and Loyola Marymount, she posted a season-high 12 kills in each match.
Then the stress fractures hit, forcing Seaton to miss her sophomore season as a redshirt in 2008. “I tried a million different things [but not surgery] before I got it to go away,” she recalled.
In 2009, Seaton returned as a redshirt sophomore to start 10 of her 18 matches and average 1.96 kills, 0.64 blocks and 0.44 digs per game. Against Army and UCLA, she again racked up a season-high 12 kills in each match. She also was named to the Pepperdine Asics Classic all-tournament team.
But there was a problem that season. While practicing in September 2009, Seaton tore the labrum in her left (hitting) shoulder. She played through it the best she could, then underwent surgery in December 2009.
She recovered quickly enough to be back playing in the spring of 2010, then a freakish accident that seemingly could only happen to her (and maybe Greg Oden) knocked her out of action last summer.
On the first day of Pepperdine’s youth volleyball camp, one of the campers — whom Seaton estimated to be 12 or 13 — backed into Seaton from the court next to her. The collision dislocated Seaton’s knee and tore her meniscus.
Wow! How does that even happen?
Seaton tried to rehabilitate so she could play for Pepperdine in 2010. But it didn’t work out and she ended up having a successful surgery in November.
She rehabbed again through January and February, then rested afterward, figuring there was no need to rush the process to resume her volleyball career.
That was over, she assumed.
“I thought I was totally done playing and just kinda relaxed,” said Seaton, who’s been an assistant coach for Terre Haute’s Crossroads of America volleyball program this summer.
Since she started talking to IU, Seaton joined Anytime Fitness (free plug for my favorite 24-hour gym) to help fast-forward her training during her last few weeks in Terre Haute before she heads to Bloomington.
For those who might be interested in watching Seaton play, IU’s home matches take place in the University Gym. The Hoosiers’ regular-season opener will be Aug. 26 against High Point in the Hokie Classic at Blacksburg, Va.
• Going down under — Former Terre Haute North softball standout Bethany Sullivan, who recently completed her freshman season at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, has been invited to pitch for a U.S. women’s college-age team in Australia in June 2012.
Sullivan was recommended by her IU Southeast coach, Todd Buckingham, who also will coach this U.S. team.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Sullivan, who has never been to Australia. “For example, we’re going to learn how to surf while we’re down there. We’re going to take tours on other days.”
Sullivan said games will be played June 10-22 in Sydney and the Gold Coast.
Unfortunately, there is a catch. Sullivan needs to raise $6,500 over the next few months to pay for the trip and she could use a little help.
“The Bethany Sullivan Benefit Fund” has been set up at First Financial Bank and donations can be made at any of its branches.
Sullivan ended up 6-2 with a 2.01 earned-run average and one shutout in 2011 as IU Southeast finished 34-20.
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.