April 26, 1999
Columbus, Ohio – Senior Kelli Tom will never play softball again. This is her reality. She still suffers from chronic pain in her left knee after two surgeries in three years. But the adversity of the injury has only made her a better person. Kelli sat down and talked about her career and her future.
Q: What went through your mind when the doctor told you that you should retire from the sport because your knee was never going to heal?
Kelli Tom: I was very hurt and disappointed. I felt that I was going to let a lot of people down by not playing my senior year. But then I came to the realization that this decision is best for me if I want to be able to walk ten years from now.
Q: What got you through the initial disappointment?
KT: I kept a lot of what was going on to myself. I talked with the coaches and they helped me out a lot, and I talked to some of my friends, but other than that I kept a lot of things to myself.
Q: Does the knee still bother you?
KT: Yes. The doctor told me to retire and take time off. If my knee was still bothering me after this, we would reevaluate and decide where to go from there. More than likely, another knee surgery.
Q: In what ways do you try to contribute to the team now?
KT: When I retired, I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back and be part of the team because I thought it would be too hard. But then I realized that this has been a part of my daily life for four years and I’ve spent every day with these people, that I couldn’t imagine not being there with them. So I do whatever I can to help the team. I am a good cheerleader. I help people out in whatever way I can. I just want to be there for them. Q: If you can look back to when you were a freshman, in what ways have you changed the most?
KT: I say that I have really grown up and become a very strong person. My injury has really taught me to stay strong mentally and physically. Q: What will be your fondest memories of softball when you look back upon your career?
KT: My friends. I wouldn’t have made it through my college career without the love and support my friends have given me. All the memories that I have of softball include having my team and friends there for me and with me. Q: What are your immediate post-college plans?
KT: I will be graduating next fall, and I will be applying for grad school. Until grad school, I will be hanging out in Columbus and working.