Nothing gets Queen of Peace outside hitter Michelle Frederick more revved up than putting down a kill or diving to make a dig.
“I love the competitiveness of volleyball,” she said with a smile.
Her biggest grin came when asked about the best part of the 2013 regular season.
“This is the first year I’ve been pain-free since about sixth grade,” she said.
It was at that time Frederick was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. After her sophomore season at Peace, she underwent surgery in which two metal rods were inserted into her back to alleviate the situation.
Nine months later, Frederick returned to the court, and as a senior has become a leader for the Pride. The 5-9 outside hitter ended the regular season with 201 kills, 127 digs and 18 aces.
The captain on the volleyball squad, Frederick also plays on the school’s basketball team.
“Oh, we’ll be missing her sorely next year,” Peace coach Megan Jones said. “She is our leader in kills and kill percentage, she plays all the way around, she leads in aces and ace percentage. So she takes care of us in the front row and the back
“We will be hurting next year without her presence as a leader on the court and off the court.”
Frederick played sports from sixth grade through her sophomore season while addressing her condition with medication, cortisone shots and by wearing a brace during downtime and overnight.
About the only thing that could slow her down were back spasms.
“Scoliosis usually doesn’t cause pain, but in my case where my spine was would cause them,” she said. “I could play; it would just be painful.”
As a freshman at Peace, Frederick played on the JV squad. As a sophomore, she was promoted to the varsity as a defensive specialist. During a sectional match against Marian Catholic, Frederick’s condition reached the breaking point.
“I couldn’t stand up,” she said. “We went down to the trainer’s office and everything went numb, all the way down to my toes.
“We decided that [surgery] had to happen. The back brace was only going to do so much.”
After an eight-hour procedure Nov. 15, 2011, Frederick spent a week in the hospital. Remarkably, she was walking sooner than that.
“I know someone who had the surgery 20 years ago and she couldn’t walk for at least a month,” Frederick said. “Now that technology is so advanced, I was walking in two days.”
For nine months, Frederick had to avoid athletics to give the bone a chance to fuse around the rod. In July 2012 she returned to the court and was ready to go when the Pride opened its season a month later.
It wasn’t long before her metal rods faced an iron test.
“In the first game I went back and dove for a ball,” she said, laughing. “I think my mom might have had a heart attack. She screamed and I was like, ‘I’m OK!’ ”
And Queen of Peace volleyball is much better for it.