Connect with us


Devastating Ankle Injury Mostly Behind Her, A-C Valley’s Blauser Focused on New Challenges … and New Sport

FOXBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Baylee Blauser is still heartbroken. Thoughts of what could have been still sprint through her mind.

In the spring, Blauser was just days away from the two biggest track and field meets of her life in the long jump for A-C Valley. Already a school record-holder in the event with a jump of 18 feet, 3.5 inches, she was the favorite to take home District 9 and PIAA titles in Class 2A.

Then one misstep changed everything.

Heeter Lumber Logo 2 (1)
Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

A junior last spring, Blauser was also a standout softball player. She was playing in her final game of the season when she sprinted to back up third base.

She stepped in a divot and badly twisted her left ankle.

Crumpled and lying prone on the grass, Blauser knew her long jump dreams were over.

Just like that. Quest for golds dashed.

“That got me angry,” Blauser said. “I was feeling good and then I got hurt. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk about it without getting a little upset. I was working so hard. I worked through COVID, and I really wanted to perform well. … It was just so hard for me to accept what had happened. It just aggravates me.”

In the months since, Blauser has found at least some peace with what has happened. It has opened her eyes to new possibilities and new challenges as she prepares for her future in college beyond this year. She still remains focused on getting back to the state meet and winning a state title in the long jump this time.

“If that were to happen,” Blauser said, “I’d probably cry.”

They’d be well-deserved — and happy — tears.

Blauser had to make a deal with her physician just to be cleared to give the ankle a go at the district and state meets: Compete, but stay off the ankle of a solid month when it was all over.

Blauser agreed. She qualified for the PIAA championships at the district meet — barely — but finished a disappointing 10th in Shippensburg.

The ankle was just too sore. Blauser was just too hobbled.

Even now, more than five months later, the ankle still gives Blauser trouble at times.

“It’s not 100%,” Blauser said. “But it’s OK.”

She’s refrained from even trying to jump since her final sprint down the runway at the state meet. That will come.

Instead, Blauser is taking on a new — and rather unexpected — challenge.


Blauser, who also plays basketball in the winter, hadn’t planned on adding a fourth sport to her high school plate. But the combination of some of her friends on the volleyball team lobbying for her to join them and the challenge of taking on a sport she hadn’t played since the ninth grade convinced her to give it a shot.

She’s only been on the roster for two weeks, but has already seen some playing time at middle hitter.

(Baylee Blauser, left, and Meah Ielase)

“I’m not gonna lie, it was really weird because I haven’t done it for a while,” Blauser said. “But don’t get me wrong, I was really excited.”

Blauser also had some trepidation about jumping in so late in the year.

How would some of her teammates respond?

“I was nervous at first because it was already halfway through the season and here I am joining,” Blauser said. “They’ve been practicing for so long and here’s me coming in — I felt weird about it. They were really accepting toward me and we’re having a lot of fun together.”

A-C Valley coach Mike Meals also welcomed Blauser with open arms.

He said he wasn’t worried about how the team would respond to Blauser coming aboard so late into the season.

“She’s a likable kid, so nobody has any issues,” Meals said. “She’s a good enough athlete that she can do anything she sets her mind to. She needs a little more work.

Blauser is the first to admit that, too, and realizes her playing time will be limited, at least at first, because of her inexperience.

“Whatever playing time I get, I’ll be thankful for,” Blauser said. “I’m not gonna be mad if there’s games that I don’t get in because like I told (Coach Meals), I haven’t been playing since the beginning, so I understand. What happens, happens.”

She played some against powerhouse Clarion Tuesday night and recorded a kill. More importantly, perhaps, she stayed healthy.

Blauser agonized over her decision to play volleyball again.

One of her concerns was her ankle. She didn’t want to re-injure it and set herself back again. She had already made the decision to not play softball this spring for that very reason.
“I thought about that long and hard. The day that I really wanted to do it, I was thinking about it all day, ‘Is this the best choice to make because I didn’t want to re-injure myself,’” Blauser said. “I went home and talked to my parents. I asked them, ‘What do you think?’ And they said if something happens now, you’ll be ready by track season. They said, ‘Just be careful. You don’t want that to happen again.’”

Blauser’s decision to give up softball was also a difficult one.

She had been playing that sport longer than any other and for a time it was by far her favorite.

Until she started to soar in the long jump and realized that was what she wanted to do at the next level.

Still, Blauser admits she will miss softball deeply.

“It definitely stinks,” Blauser said. “I thought my last game would be my senior year in the playoffs or something. Nope. It was me getting carried off the field.”

Blauser, though, knows her future is in the jumps in college. That’s where she is being heavily recruited by a bevy of Division I and II programs.

She has her choice narrowed down to two and hopes to make the decision soon.

“It’s been exciting, but a little scary,” Blauser said of the recruiting process. “It’s a new chapter and I want to make the right decision.”

Heeter Lumber Logo 2 (1)
Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.