GVSU seniors stick around after career-changing injuries
Gross, Kidd adjust to new role for Laker volleyball
Although they might never play in another varsity volleyball match, Grand Valley State seniors Carley Gross and Audrey Kidd aren't taking the easy way out by bailing on the team.
Rather, Gross and Kidd are embracing their roles and their career paths, and helping every way they can.
“The respect I have for these girls means so much more to me than the game of volleyball,” Gross said. “I consider them family and I would never ever in a million years think to leave my family. I’m sticking it out not only for me, but because I love them.”
Gross didn’t think she would be in this position, watching her teammates without having the opportunity to contribute, after gradually seeing more playing time leading up to her senior year.
She played in 32 matches last season and finished sixth-best on the team in kills (132), but a persistent back injury suffered during an offseason practice last spring unexpectedly ended her playing career.
“I definitely didn’t think the injury was going to completely terminate my career as a volleyball player here,” Gross said. “But, it is what it is and it happened, so I’m just trying to make the best of the scenario.”
Limited to what she can do, Gross has taken on a brand new role as a quasi-coach. From helping run certain drills in practice, to running around doing small errands for the coaching staff, Gross takes on any challenge her body can handle.
Injury setbacks, albeit not as severe, also have affected Kidd from reaching her full potential. Kidd underwent shoulder surgery in the past, an operation that causes her pain on a daily basis.
Kidd has pushed through the discomfort in practice and played in three matches this season regardless. She appeared in nine matches as a junior, and only one set during each of her sophomore and freshman seasons.
Before graduating, Kidd could factor into a few more sets if GVSU gets a big enough lead to get her in, but she understands her role on the sidelines is just as important to the team then her stepping out onto the court.
During a match or even outside the Fieldhouse Arena, Kidd is observant and always trying to figure out what her teammates need, taking it as her responsibility to keep the team’s morale up.
“If Staci (Brower) comes in and doesn’t look like her normal self, if she is in her head about a game, I know I need to loosen her up. I need to sing a song to her or joke around with her,” Kidd said. “Or if they are having a bad day, say Betsy (Ronda) is frustrated with class, like you know you have to be there for that person.
“Other people scout the teams we are going to play. I kind of scout how we are.”
Between Gross and Kidd, head coach Deanne Scanlon is appreciative to have that type of senior leadership around to mold and teach a youthful team currently featuring six true freshmen.
Rather than walking away from the sport, their willingness to be involved has not only aided the coaches, but helps holds everyone around them accountable.
“It’s hard for anyone to really complain,” Scanlon said. “When you have these two seniors, whose careers have not gone the way they would have scripted them, and you see them coming in every day and working hard, being positive and trying to help the team in any way they can it just makes it almost impossible for anybody to feel sorry for themselves.”
The two are making a difference, whether that involves going to the weight room to find something, impromptu singing to provoke a laugh, or noticing when someone needs genuine advice.
Gross and Kidd have found a place among their beloved family members.
“It takes special people to be able to put other people first,” Scanlon said. “For their teammates to really acknowledge how important they are helps them through not getting a lot of playing time.
“It’s a hard thing to do. I don’t know if I could do it.”