Gustavus Women's Hockey Player Makes Comeback After Possible Par - KEYC

Gustavus Women's Hockey Player Makes Comeback After Possible Paralysis

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In the State of Hockey, it's hard for many Minnesotans to stay off the ice but especially for one Gustavus Adolphus women's hockey player.

Kaitlyn Klein, sophomore forward, laced up her skates for a Thanksgiving tournament out east- not knowing it might be the last game she played.

"I was kind of at a loss for words and I was just like, "Whatever you need to do, just do it," Klein said.

Klein had broken a vertebra in her neck during a play that sent her into the boards.

"People get hurt all the time in hockey. It just looked like a freak accident," Diana Draayer, sophomore forward, said.

Klein agreed, "It wasn't the other girl's fault. It wasn't my fault. It was just very unlucky."

And the bad luck became even more daunting when she arrived to the hospital.

"The surgeon even said multiple times that almost every time he does this surgery, it ends in paralysis," Klein said.

But that's when luck changed. The surgery was a success.

"At first, I was like why did this have to happen to me?" Klein said. "But then after the surgery, everything just went well."

Klein is back at Gustavus walking around campus, attending classes, and supporting her team in a new way - from the stands and in the locker room.

"She's embraced her injury and has really come a long way," Rachel Skoglund, sophomore forward, said.

Klein attends every practice, game, and team activity.

"I feel that it's a motivation thing," Klein said. "You never know when your last game is going to be."

It's this motivation that has transferred from Klein to the team.

"I think we're just a lot more grateful," Katy Fuller, sophomore forward, said. "It's just a privilege to be out there every day."

Even though Klein has beat the odds, she still isn't exactly where she wants to be.

"I would love to be back on the ice," Klein said. "But I still have a few more months in recovery."

Klein said that despite her injury she still loves and appreciates the game of hockey.

"I still see it as a freak accident," she said.

Klein continues to make progress in her recovery. In early February, she got rid of her neck brace but will always have a permanent reminder that she now embraces: a scar.

"When she first posted about her scar, she was saying that at first she was really embarrassed about it," Fuller said. "But now it's a really cool story and makes her who she is."

Klein said she doesn't view the injury as a negative.

"It's just hard to be negative with everything that's gone so greatly and how blessed I am," Klein said.

--KEYC News 12