The year 2020 was tough for pretty much everyone, but for Social Circle High School student Alexa Wykoff, it was 2019 that proved to be the really tough year. The 17-year-old junior, at that time a freshman, was well on her way to making a name for herself as a star athlete with her eyes set on a softball college scholarship. She had played softball from the age of 5, signing up with a travel ball team when she was 9, and was a starter on the 2019 SCHS softball team.
But everything came to a grinding halt in January 2019 when she first experienced pain in her shoulder.
“I was at my hitting lesson and I remember the pain in my shoulder getting so bad to the point where I could barely swing my bat anymore. I had previously been to the doctor twice for my shoulder. Both times I told them that it didn’t really bother me and just felt sore, so they assumed it was tendinitis, told me to rest for 2 weeks, and that was it. My mom decided that I needed to go back. This time, they told me I needed to take some time off and decided to send me to physical therapy to see if that would help,” Alexa wrote in a letter documenting her experience. “After a couple of months went by with what felt like no progress, we decided I should get an MRI so we would at least know for sure what was wrong with it. On April 11th, 2019 I went for my MRI. After getting the MRI results back, they told me that I had a torn labrum. My labrum was torn at my bicep tendon and because they were doing their best to avoid surgery, I had strict limitations and wasn’t allowed to lift more than 5 pounds with my right arm.”
Alexa said after playing softball her entire life, it was extremely difficult for her not to play, but she knew she needed to focus on doing everything she could to help her body heal. She spent the next 10 months in physical therapy 2 – 3 times a week, for 3 hours at a time. But she did not let that take her away from her time with the team or getting in some practice whenever she could.
“The entire time I was in physical therapy I still went to every practice and took every rep I could that didn’t involve my shoulder. I had extremely supportive coaches and the best trainer that helped me through everything,” she wrote.
The restraint and focus, as well as keeping up with the team and getting in any practice she could, paid off. In her first game back in September of that year, Alexa hit one over center field in her third at-bat.
“I remember running around third base looking at my coach and that’s when we both knew without a doubt I was back and got really really excited for the season. My first game fully back was September of 2019. I remember feeling so many emotions. I was so nervous and scared but also extremely excited to finally be back on the field,” Alexa wrote. “I officially got cleared and finished physical therapy at the end of October. It was kind of bittersweet. I was so happy to be done, but at the same time I had grown to know and love everyone in physical therapy after spending so much time there.”
That was the year the SCHS Varsity Softball Team won the state championship and Alexa ended up receiving All-Region, All-County, and All-State honors. And her efforts did not go unnoticed. For this, she was awarded a 2020/2021 Comeback Award by Playsafe – a 501c(3) non-profit organization that “strives to support essential sports medicine services to athletic youth and community.”
“Alexa Wykoff is a great example of what this award stands for. Her softball coach, Audra Thomas, submitted her nomination to myself and our athletic director, Craig Hargrove, and we sent her application on to the PlaySafe ComeBack Award committee,” said Sierra Nix MS ATC LAT PlaySafe Athletic Trainer. “We are very proud of her and excited that she was chosen as a recipient of the ComeBack Award.”
Alexa also had to write a letter, outlining her injury, experiences and return to the field to complete the application. Alexa’s parents, Adam and Jocelyn Wykoff, received notification that she was a recipient of this award by Ann Cioffi, VP of Human Resources for Playsafe.
“Student-athletes who are selected for this honor have not only come back from an injury but exemplify a commitment to the school and sport by demonstrating a positive attitude toward their program, peers, and choices. Alexa Wykoff has met and surpassed these criteria and has clearly demonstrated the outstanding qualities we look for in the recipients of this award,” Cioffi wrote.
Her parents were thrilled with her nomination and ultimately being chosen as a recipient of the award. “We are so proud of Alexa and her growing ability to face and overcome adversity. Her strength and determination are inspiring,” Jocelyn Wykoff said.
For Alexa, tough as it was, the experience changed her focus on what is important. Although she still loves the game of softball and will likely continue to rack up honors in her senior year, she has her eye on a new career now, and she has her doctor, Dr. David Harkins, and her physical therapist, Lloyd Van Pamalen at Athens Orthopedic Clinic, to thank for her new focus.
“At one point I had dreams to one day play in college, but recently, I decided I want to major in nursing and focus on my career,” she said. She is now interested in a handful of colleges that have a strong nursing program: Augusta University, Berry College, Georgia College, and College of Charleston.
In her letter in support of her nomination, Alexa had written, “I know it sounds crazy, but I’m so thankful for my injury. While there were a lot of lows and I thought the whole world was going to end because I couldn’t play, it allowed me to spend a little extra time with friends and family and learn to appreciate things a little more. I’m so thankful for my family and friends, teammates, coaches, doctors, physical therapist, and trainer for all being so supportive and encouraging through everything. They’re the ones that kept me going on the bad days.”
“What a great and deserved honor for Alexa,” Van Pamelen said of her award. “Please congratulate her for me and remind her how those morning drives to grind out those rehab days set her up for success..so proud of her!”
Alexa received her award with the other winners at the 4th Annual Comeback Awards on May 2 via video due to the Coronavirus.
Alexa Wykoff Bio
2019 first team all-region region champions state champions
2020 all-region honorable mention
2021 first team all-region second-team all-county first-team all-state sweet 16
2021 Varsity Swim Team Manager 2021 Varsity Tennis
School hosa leadership team beta club national honor society nation society of high school scholars 4.0 gpa