Q&A: EWU Outside Hitter Britta Forsythe

After a highly successful prep career at North Idaho Christian and Lake City High School, outside hitter Britta Forsythe was recruited to play volleyball for Eastern Washington University. The opportunity to be a Division I student-athlete at a school just 50 miles west of where she grew up was a dream come true. But actually fulfilling this dream has been much harder than anticipated. In her first two years with the program, Forsythe battled an array of injuries and illness, limiting her time on the court. But now, after many months of rehab, Forsythe finds herself stronger than ever and determined to stay that way for the 2012 season, and hopefully the rest of her collegiate career.

Q: What were the injuries you experienced during your first two years, and how did you handle each setback?
A: "Following my redshirt year in 2010, I started having problems with my knees and shins. Chenoa [Rossi-Childress] and I were the only middles during the spring season, so we were just jumping constantly and our knees really took a toll. We realized there were several issues with my knees, but luckily they didn’t require surgery. So over the summer, I did a lot of physical therapy and got orthotics, which helped align my knees so there wasn’t rubbing on my meniscus and femur anymore. The orthotics helped 110 percent, to where I hardly felt any pain anymore. But then in late July, I was diagnosed with mono. I had ignored some of the signs and symptoms because I honestly thought it was just allergies, so by the time I went to the doctor, I had a pretty advanced case. I had to take it easy for the first few weeks of preseason, which is really an important time for determining where everyone is and possible rotations for the season. But once I felt better, I really hit it hard. I tried hard stay on top of the rehab too so nothing crept up on me, and I felt good all season [2011]. I played well in our first spring tournament, but then the last day of weight training before spring break, I was doing a hang snatch and after the first set, I felt a pretty bad pain. I discussed it with our trainer and got an MRI, which came back saying I had a slap tear in my right shoulder. This injury was the hardest to take because I had already gone through so much my freshman year, so to hear this news really broke my heart. I had been working so hard to play and to find out another thing was now hindering me was pretty devastating."

Q: You redshirted your freshman year by choice, but continued to find yourself sidelined by these various unplanned injuries? What is that like watching from the bench?
A: "As a redshirt, there’s nothing you can really do. I had made that decision and I knew I couldn’t play because of NCAA rules. I knew that year I could learn a lot and contribute to the game by calling different spots that were open for our hitters or yelling how many blocks they had up. But not being able to play because of injury is much harder. It’s a mind game basically. You don’t really have control over whether you get injured, it can just happen. You have to stay positive or it’s impossible to get through. I just tried to give it all I could at practice and push through some of the pain."

Q: What do you think you’ve gained, if anything, from this experience?
A: "I realized that I really needed to focus on getting stronger, and hopefully at the end of the process, I will come out bigger and better than I was when I first came to Eastern. Doing rehab every day, over and over, has taught me that being healthy is a lifestyle, and you have to do these things consistently if you want to reach your goals. It is a constant battle, but it’s made me realize that everybody falls, and it’s really about how your pick yourself up and the attitude you have about it. Because ultimately, in the end, I will be stronger."

Q: You’ve spent most of the summer rehabbing your shoulder and are feeling great, but you will inevitably have a lot to prove in the fall…how do you feel heading into the 2012 season?
A: "I’ve never been more excited to play. I honestly don’t know what the coaches think about my position right now, but I trust their decisions. I respect them. I chose to play for them and they are my leaders, so I will respect whatever they decide. But at the same time, I have put a lot of pressure on myself because I want to play. This summer, I’m trying to push myself really, really hard so I’m ready for preseason. I’ll go down to the beach in Coeur d’Alene and play for six hours a day or play rec at the gym. I know I am ready to go out and prove myself. Through everything I’ve been through, I’m just ready for my time."

Q: Do you have specific goals in mind for this season?
A: "To be consistently healthy. Personally, I want more playing time. Whether that means starting or not, it doesn’t matter, I just want to play more. But overall, I just want us to succeed as a team. I want us to come out stronger than we were last year, and do better than fourth in the Big Sky. I want to us to win conference, and I think that’s achievable."

Q: In the midst of the injuries and even throughout your redshirt season, your parents have continued to support you and the program. They came to almost every match the last two seasons even if you weren’t playing. How has that helped in the process?
A: "Since I am an only child, my parents came to every high school game and club game and even traveled to a lot of tournaments. I think it’s fun for them, and for me to have that kind of support, especially now through all the injuries, has been huge. I think that’s where I learned to be so supportive of my team and teammates as well, regardless if I’m on the court. One of the main reasons I chose to play at Eastern was to be close to my family, and for them to be able to come and support me is the greatest thing ever."

Q: That support extends beyond you as an individual. Your parents have helped tremendously in the fundraising efforts of the EWU volleyball team, especially with the Play-to-Stay raffle. Tell us about that project and your family’s involvement.
A: "My Dad really loves being able to help the program as a whole. It’s fortunate that he has connections to the Coeur d’Alene Resort and is able to have that communication and help raise money for the program. It is a great opportunity for both sides."

"Play to Stay" is a raffle to benefit EWU volleyball. All proceeds will be used to enhance the quality of the EWU volleyball program and the Eagle volleyball student-athlete experience. The Grand Prize for the 2012 “Play to Stay” raffle features a one-night stay in the Hagadone Suite at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, as well as a $300 gift certificate to the CDA Resort Spa, a $200 gift certificate to Beverly’s, two 2013 EWU football and volleyball season tickets and an Eagle Athletics gift basket. There is also a second-place prize valued at more $1,500 that includes a round of golf for four (4) at the CDA Resort Golf Course and a $200 gift certificate for The Resort Golf Course ProShop and Floating Green Restaurant and Bar. Tickets are on sale now for $50, and the winners will be announced at Eastern's final home game of the season against Weber State on Nov. 17, 2012!

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