CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team started off the unprecedented spring 2021 season with a win against North Alabama Friday night. The young squad is led by five-year senior Mikaela Gauthreaux, who returns for a final season after tearing her ACL in 2019.
“I nominated her for preseason all-conference, and I think 24 hours later, her and I were bawling our eyes out processing that ACL injury,” head coach Travis Filar said.
Gauthreaux went from having never even sprained an ankle and hitting career highs as a junior, to rehabbing an ACL tear and sitting out her senior season. Now after almost two years, she’s back on the court.
“I think it’s a pretty incredible feat by her,” assistant coach Darin Van Horn said. “She’s one of the most determined players on our team.”
“It definitely gave me something to work towards. Knowing that there was a season at the end and working and getting stronger for something, rather than just every day life, gave me motivation while I was rehabbing,” Gauthreaux said. “It’s been a crazy progression, because there’s been some days where I’ve thought I’ll never be able to bend my knee again or get it fully straight. Just being able to see all the things I can do now has been awesome.”
“She rolls her sleeves up, puts her head down and gets to work,” Filar said. “She’s done that with her rehab process, multiple injuries and setbacks. That’s why the kids follow her. Why I was so grateful she decided to come back for a fifth year.”
The pandemic push back gave Gauthreaux more time to get ready.
“Blessing in disguise for sure, because it gave me those extra few months to focus on rehabbing and getting stronger,” Gauthreaux said.
“Just from us being a young team too, it helped us a ton from being able to implement our systems and getting everyone familiar with that,” Van Horn said. “It’s probably more of a blessing for us than other teams.”
The Mocs head into the season opener with 12 underclassmen on the roster — Gauthreaux’s experience and leadership showing itself to be invaluable in 2021.