Winfield athlete overcomes injury to earn a silver medal in national event
Sometimes it is the challenging circumstances in our lives that bring about the most growth. We experience something so difficult that we must make a decision whether to let it make us or break us.
Just ask Carly Hinkle.
Hinkle is a 15-year-old sophomore who runs track for Winfield High School, and competes in the high jump for the Capital City Striders. She has also made All American two times and has received two silver medals for the high jump in the USATF Junior Olympics. Less than two years ago, however, after injuring her ACL in a sports-related accident, Hinkle's chances of participating in any future sports competitions was questionable.
According to Hinkle's dad, Ron, the her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) was torn on Jan. 9, 2013 during a basketball game between Winfield and Ripley Middle schools.
"I heard my knee pop. My leg collapsed under me. I knew it wasn't something little. I couldn't walk at all," she said.
Her dad carried her to the car and took her home.
The next morning she had an MRI. After viewing the report, the doctor told them she would need surgery and several months of physical therapy to get back full use of her leg. Hinkle was devastated. She loves sports and high jumping is a passion.
"I heard it can end your career," she said. "I wanted to come back to track so bad."
Physical therapy began immediately despite the fact that the surgery, scheduled for Jan. 23, was two weeks away. PT is essential at that time to prevent losing muscle mass. The early intervention also aids the knee in its post-op recovery.
"You have to build all that strength back up," Hinkle said. "The muscle above your knee shrinks. My strength was completely lost."
Ron and her mother, Tara, constantly encouraged her.
"In the beginning it was tough because of the weakness of her leg," Ron Hinkle said. "She did very well. She continued to get better. She wanted it to happen right away. With that type of injury it doesn't just happen, it takes months.
It took eight to be exact.
"We kept her involved with it, went to a couple of track meets, kept her confidence up," Ron said.
Along with track, basketball and volleyball, Hinkle is active at King's River Worship Center in Saint Albans. Over the years she has learned a lot of Bible verses and her favorite one is Philippians 4:13 which reads: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Her mother said her daughter has displayed the verse prominently for inspiration.
"She's got it posted everywhere," Tara said.
Over the eight months of therapy, she gained encouragement from all quarters, even receiving a video from Keefe Duterte, of Winfield, a motivational speaker who has written a series of books titled, "It's not how you start, It's how you finish," which became another source of inspiration for her.
Hinkle's interest in track started in the 6th grade at Winfield Middle School although she didn't compete that first year. Along with track at WMS, she also joined Capital City Striders whose season begins around Memorial Day. Initially, she was a runner and then one day as she watched the athletes who performed the high jump, she decided she, too, wanted to jump. Someone spoke to the coach, Marshall Murray who let her try out. After some tips from her Uncle Joe Lambiotte, who had competed in track in high school and college, she made her first attempts. She jumped 3 feet, 9 inches at the beginning of the season and finished at 4-8 by the end of the summer. By the summer following the eighth grade, she was an All American and had won a silver medal for second place in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in 2012. Then the injury cooled her heels, but not for long. After eight months of intensive therapy, she was ready to compete again by the 2014 track season.
To qualify for the Junior Olympics, one has to compete in the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) or the USATF (United States Track and Field). The Hinkles picked the USATF because the group's schedules worked better for their family. To qualify, one must be in the top 5 in the state and top 5 in the regionals. Carly had won first place in the high jump for Region 5.
When the athletes get to the nationals, they are divided into the following age groups: 6 and under; 7-8; 9-10; 11-12; 13-14; 15-16; and 17-18. Hinkle was listed under 15-16 and seeded 7. About 55 people competed against her. It is hot in Houston in the summertime. On July 26, the temperature was 95 degrees. Hinkle was fortified with a bottle of water and an umbrella.
"It was overwhelming with a lot of people. It was exciting," Hinkle said.
The competitors are given three chances on each jump which starts at 4-9. To prepare herself, Hinkle said she whispered her favorite Bible verse which has become her words to live by "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
She knew what she had to do and just did it.
"You block everything out," she said. "I cleared all on the first try. I didn't miss until 5-7.
That was good enough to get her an All American title (top 8) and most likely, a second place silver medal. However, it would be 90 minutes before she would know for sure.
"It was a good hour and a half. They wouldn't tell us anything," she said. Still everyone tries to remember the individual scores. Finally, the athletes are lined up according to their scores which is a definite indication of where they placed. When Hinkle won 2nd place in Baltimore in 2012, she came in second to a girl named Shayla Broughton.
On this day, she and Shayla tied for second place and silver medals. The Junior Olympics do not have tie breakers. Both girls cleared 5-5. The first place winner cleared 5-7. Both the winner and Broughton are several inches taller than Hinkle who is 5-6.
Hinkle is very happy with her second place showing. She is also happy to be back competing in the sport she loves. However, it has given her a new purpose which is to try to encourage others who have to fight to come back from serious injuries.
"Everything happens for a reason," she said. "I want to inspire others. I'd tell them to keep working, don't give up on the physical therapy."
Ron Hinkle believes remaining positive was part of what got Carly through her ordeal.
"She hasn't let this be a negative, she just worked harder to get where she is. It is a lifelong lesson," he said.
Both he, Tara and Carly hope it inspires other athletes.
"With hard work and dedication they can come back," Tara said. "She just wants to get the story out. They can come back from those injuries."
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