It was a tough offseason for Jill Friend. April 2003 saw her still licking her wounds from another failed trip to nationals and staring reconstructive shin surgery square in the face. It was so daunting that the fifth-year Dinos women's volleyball player was seriously considering calling it quits.
Lucky for her and her teammates she didn't.
On Sept. 12, 2003, Friend went under the knife to undo the damage a long and hard-fought volleyball career had done to her shins. Following the successful procedure, Friend had only one question for the doctors: when can I start playing again?
"They said it would be four or five months, if I really pushed it," she recalls.
And when was she back on the court?
"I was back in three," she laughs.
Not one to listen to doubters, Friend set a very short timetable for her recovery and, although it took her a while longer than she initially hoped, once the dust had settled she was a starter once again. Even better, she was a national champion.
"That whole recovery blew me away," admits Head Coach Kevin Boyles. "I didn't think she could do it."
But she did, giving credit to fellow fifth-year and close friend Amanda Moppett all along. Both Moppett and Friend were members of Dinos teams which had fallen short when it mattered most in the three previous years and they were determined not to make this year the fourth.
"I wanted to go out with Moppett," says Friend. "I wouldn't have played my fifth-year without her."
"It wouldn't have been right any other way," recalls Moppett of being on the floor with Friend when the final point was scored. "As great as it would have been, something wouldn't have seemed quite right if I won and Jill wasn't there."