Warrior athlete overcomes injury after injury
ZEPHYR COVE, Calif – A dislocated thumb, two torn ligaments, a punctured knee, a fractured fibula and a displaced tibia. That’s a laundry list of injuries suffered by Nina Jimenez during her athletic career at George Whittell High School. And though the senior Warrior has spent about as much time healing as playing, she’s always found her way back to the court.
“All of my injuries have been freak accidents,” Jimenez said. “It’s probably a lot of bad luck and bad timing.”
Every year the volleyball standout has had some sort of injury to start a season. Her freshman year she dislocated a thumb, which she said was really not that big of a deal. Her sophomore year, two ligaments were torn in her ankle. Junior year proved to be a doozy for her, as she punctured her knee while mountain biking which forced her to miss the volleyball preseason. Then, in the first basketball game of the season, Jimenez fractured her fibula and displaced her tibia when an opposing player landed on her leg while fighting for a lose ball.
“My joint was pretty much Jell-O,” she said. “That took me out the entire season.”
In fact, she was out for nine months, which included softball season as well. It wasn’t till recently that Jimenez was able to jump back into action, picking up right where she left off in volleyball.
“It’s kind of amazing that she’s been able to come back from all those injuries,” said Whittell volleyball coach Nate Byrne. “She’s just really tenacious to come back and plays really hard.”
Byrne said that not only has Jimenez came back from injuries, but her skill level hasn’t dropped off at all from the time off.
“For volleyball, breaking your leg, personally I’d be very weary,” Byrne said. “She enjoys playing and she just goes out and plays. Whether she’s hurt or not, she’s going to give you 100 percent.”
Even with so many injuries and the risk of more injuries, Jimenez still wants to play volleyball, basketball and softball. She said all the injuries have actually motivated her and made her better. She said the time on the bench has helped her learn that being a leader takes place on the court and off the court.
“I realized the fear of getting hurt isn’t enough to hold me back,” she said. “Because it’s not the sport that hurt me.”
“I worry, sure. But I just love watching her play and she has a passion to play,” said her mom Pam Jimenez. “There is a risk in everything you do. We just try to keep her strong and keep on top of everything.”
Nina not only performs well on the court, but according to Byrne, is a “brainiac.” The senior was the recent recipient of the Gene Upshaw Scholarship this summer and carries a 4.34 grade point average. Her top choice for college is John Hopkins University, but wherever she ends up, she plans on studying biomedical engineering. Her mom says that because of Nina’s injuries, she’s more drawn to the medical field.
“There’s been a bigger fascination with the human body and how it works and heals,” she said.
And now that Nina is healed, she plans to make the most of her time on the court and field this year.