STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It’s not easy for Kendall Dunn to be there.
Sitting on the bench.
(Clarion-Limestone senior Kendall Dunn, front center, signs to play volleyball at Pitt-Bradford. With her are, front row from left, her father, Craig, sister, Jenna and mother, Laura. Back row, from left, C-L athletic trainer Emily Lubas, C-L volleyball coach Ryan Troupe and C-L athletic director Brad Frazier/Submitted photo)
But the senior three-sport star at Clarion-Limestone has made it a point to attend every girls basketball practice, to be there for every Lions’ game, even though a torn ACL and impending surgery on Dec. 23 won’t allow her to be on the court.
She helps her teammates any way that she can, gritting her teeth through the pain of having her final hoop season scuttled because of her injury.
Dunn will play volleyball in college — she recently signed to suit up as a setter at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Her former C-L teammate, Ruby Smith is there. So is Redbank Valley grad Ryley Pago, who lost a senior season of her own to an ACL tear.
Volleyball is Dunn’s prime sport. Still, relegated to courtside for basketball games still hurts Dunn all the same.
“A lot of people told me that it’s more of a brain injury than a physical injury,” Dunn said. “It just stinks being on the bench, but it makes you grow more as a person, watching sports from a different angle.”
She’ll have to watch another season unfold without her in the spring.
Dunn is also a gifted softball player. Her surgery and rehab will wipe out that season, too.
Dunn will still be a regular in the Lions’ dugout.
“I want to be involved,” she added. “I want to be there for my teammates. I’ve been there for so long that I don’t want to give up on them. Even though I’m not playing, I’m still an athlete, so I just want to show support on or off the field or off the court.”
She’s been a quasi-coach for the Clarion-Limestone basketball team so far, offering insights on what she sees.
Dunn is also mixing it up from time to time during practice while she still can. Her name still appears in the official scorebook before each game.
“I’ll pop in there and give them an extra body,” Dunn said. “I can see things I probably wouldn’t see if I was just standing there.”
Practicing makes the absence from games all the more difficult for her to accept.
Dunn, though, still finds plenty of things for which to be grateful. She was able to power through the volleyball season, despite the ACL injury. That was important to her, as well.
“Honestly, I was just happy I was able to finish volleyball season because I really thought I wasn’t going to have that opportunity to do it,” Dunn said. “It was hard to keep going because of the tweaks and the pain of it. I was able to be strong enough and my teammates were able to help me because they knew volleyball was my sport and they wanted me to accomplish things. I’m just so glad that I was able to accomplish what I accomplished this year.”
Not being able to play has made Dunn reevaluate her future when she goes to Pitt-Bradford.
She is kicking around the idea of walking on to the basketball team.
“Missing my senior year really made me realize that I love basketball, too,” Dunn said.
This summer, Dunn was still uncertain about what she would do, or even where she would land, at the next level.
She hadn’t yet formulated a plan for post-high school life.
“I was clueless all summer,” Dunn said. “(Pitt-Bradford) showed interest in me so I looked into them. I knew Ruby plays there and I went up there from time to time this fall and watched them play. I was able to see the coaches and the players and it just looked like a nice environment. The college was so nice and it wasn’t too far away from home. The program looks good and I made the decision I wanted to go there.”
During the summer, Dunn attended volleyball camps, played in summer leagues and went to tournaments with her younger sister, Jenna, who is also a multi-sport star at C-L.
It helped her pick volleyball over basketball and softball.
“That made me realize how much I loved volleyball,” Kendall Dunn said. “That was the sport I was gonna stick with.”
Dunn certainly wasn’t planning on dealing with a catastrophic injury, however. She tore her ACL during the second match of the season for C-L and figured her year was over.
But over the next few weeks, she worked hard to rehab the injury and was able to put surgery off so she could finish out the campaign.
She knew she would have the surgery after volleyball season so she could be healthy by the start of her college career at Pitt-Bradford.
Dunn is ready for whatever challenges await her.
Even through the sadness she sometimes feels now while watching, instead of participating.
“I knew I was going to be there for them, no matter what,” Dunn said. “I have so much family on that team.”