GREENVILLE — Emilie O’Dell will get to do what most athletes dream of doing: play at the collegiate level. O’Dell, a senior at Greenville High School, committed to Three Rivers softball Monday. “Especially here in the past year, it’s been a great blessing because December of last year I didn’t ever think I was going to get to play again,” O’Dell said. The uncertainty comes from adversity O’Dell faced 11 months ago. During the third quarter of a basketball game her junior year, she tried to cut someone off along the sideline and ended up destroying her knee. “She went to turn and I went to turn, and my knee went in and I fell over it,” O’Dell said. “It popped my ACL, a partial in my MCL and a partial in my meniscus all at the same time. “It sounded and felt like a balloon popping in my knee.” O’Dell wasn’t going to let that stop her from reaching a dream, though. She had surgery and began going through rigorous physical therapy three days later, working out every day until she could begin playing again. “That was probably the worst pain I’d ever had. Even like doing the therapy after. It was horrible,” O’Dell said. Emilie’s mother and father, Olivia and Brad O’Dell, are the coach and assistant coach of Greenville’s softball team. They got a firsthand look at how she battled through the healing process and countless exercises. “She’d go to physical therapy and they’d give her workouts to do at home, and she’d be the kid that — every night without being told — she would do it,” Brad said. “She would just take the paper and do the workouts, so on the days she wasn’t going there, she was still working out. “One thing about the last time she went to the doctor when she was almost about to get cleared, she actually had her bat bag and everything sitting by the door thinking she was going to get cleared, come home and get her bag and go play softball that night.” That didn’t end up being the case on that particular night, but the determination Emilie showed is nothing new to her parents. “I’ll come home from work in the summertime and she’ll be waiting at the door with a glove ready for me to catch for her and hit balls to her. She’s always been a worker,” Brad said. A spot on the roster could’ve turned into an uncertainty for Emilie after her injury, especially since she’ll be playing in the outfield, a position that requires speed. Three Rivers coach Jeff Null reached out to her after her injury to make sure she knew that wasn’t the case, putting her mind at east and allowing her to focus on getting her knee back to 100 percent.
“I had no worries about (the injury at all),” Null said. “And it happened early enough that by the time she gets to us it’s going to be fully healed and ready to go. She’s always played at a pretty good level of ball. Back when I coached at Greenville, I had her in P.E. class and she dominated the boys, so you knew she was always going to be pretty good. “We feel pretty lucky that we got her in the program.” Playing college softball has always been a goal for Emilie. She told her mother at a young age she wanted to play at this level, so her parents made sure to work with her as much as possible until that work culminated with a commitment to Three Rivers. “We’d spend a lot of time trying to help her out with that and getting her places,” Olivia said. “She’s worked very, very hard and I’m very, very proud. It’s a very good day for us. This is all she’s wanted to do.” In regard to the next two years, Emilie can’t wait to experience a different environment and a higher level of competition. “I love moving to the next level,” Emilie said. “I love how fast-paced the game is. Everything just moves super fast, and if you make a mistake, it’s just gotta be gone because the ball can come back to you so fast.”
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic