If you have a daughter then you can understand how easily you can get wrapped around her finger, figuratively in the palm of her hand. But the opposite is true for Cienega senior volleyball standout Sheridan Wilcock.
Sheridan and her twin sister Lauren were born prematurely. At 29 weeks, both weighed barely over two pounds. They both literally fit in the palms of the hands of their mother Sherri.
“Sheridan didn’t have many difficulties early on but Lauren was a different story,” Sherri explained. “She developed an infection and the doctor told us it was best to make her as comfortable as possible. We found another surgeon who was willing to do the surgery after the nurse begged him to try. She had a 50 percent chance of just surviving the surgery itself.”
Lauren survived the surgery and has thrived although there were many tense moments.
“She coded once,” Sherri added. “That was the most difficult time. For 15 minutes we didn’t know what to expect and the doctors told us not to ask, they didn’t know either.”
Lauren went home after eight weeks but Sheridan was already home, having been sent home two weeks earlier. It was another difficult time for a mother with one child at home and another still in the hospital. One can only imagine.
“They were so small we were afraid we would break them,” Sherri remembered. “We could hold them both in our hands.”
Sheridan was around six to seven years old when she became active in sports, mainly track and volleyball. It was then when the family realized there was a curvature in her lower right leg and in her right foot.
The pain to her ankle and her hip when she was active became so intense they sought out help again and it was determined she was dealing with monoplegia, a less severe form of cerebral palsy.
One doctor suggested removing her leg at the hip and at the shin just above her ankle and reattaching at both places in the proper position. It was a drastic remedy that went beyond helping a little girl compete in sports.
“We went to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and the doctor there recommended we concentrate on just her right foot,” Sherri said. “It was already going to be an intense recovery.”
The doctors literally removed her right foot at the shin and reattached it with plates so it would be in the right position. The curvature in her leg was pronounced enough prior to the surgery that the difference was remarkable. But the pain remained.
Sheridan remained in a wheelchair for a couple of months and then had to go through therapy just to walk again. It was, and continues to be, an experience that has changed her life both on the court and off.
Sheridan and Lauren are both looking at possibly attending BYU-Idaho where Sheridan can study pediatric occupational therapy as a possible career choice.
“It hasn’t stopped me from practicing and playing,” Sheridan explained. “I work through it but the pain usually comes when I go home.”
Cienega head coach Heather Mott is impressed with what Sheridan can do. “She doesn’t ask anything from the other girls,” Mott said. “She does everything they do and never shows or lets us know how hard this is for her. We know she is in pain but she has somehow figured out a way to make it work. She is amazing.”
Her hip will continue to give her problems according to her mother but there was never really a choice between playing and not playing. For Sheridan, playing is part of a “normal life.”
Athletes can understand that.
“She fights through it, comes home and recovers from her pain,” Sherri added. “She goes right back out there and works just as hard the next day.”
But don’t take it easy on her. As the starting libero, she won’t allow anything to stop what needs to get done on the court.
“When my body settles down I am able to sleep through it,” Sheridan added. “I have great teammates and I know we will have a great year.”
Sheridan was on the low end of almost every individual statistic last year but it was only because there were seniors who earned the bulk of playing time.
The court is all hers now.
Discuss this post in our Talk of Tucson Message Board
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com