Quit – to stop, cease, or discontinue.
Persevere – to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; continue steadfastly.
All of us have experienced a moment in our lives in which we have been confronted with the decision to quit or persevere. Quitting becomes an option when we think our body or mind or both cannot continue to endure. For some, this option is any easy choice. Quitting saves us from the pain of defeat, of hurt, of loss and of failure. Avoidance of all negative outcomes of what may come if perseverance is the choice can seem like the safest option.
Perseverance on the other hand, is a commitment to try regardless of the possibility of defeat, of hurt of loss and of failure. It can lead to extraordinary achievements, goals reached, or merely the satisfaction to be able to say you tried. The mind and body must be strong enough to ignore the option to quit and continue to persist while absorbing, learning from, and adjusting to the moments of defeat.
Dru Hemmann, a student-athlete at Perryville High School in Eastern Missouri, demonstrated and continues to demonstrate to her peers, coaches and community that perseverance was and is her only option. Dru went from being a promising setter for the Lady Pirates to an amputee relearning how to utilize her new body playing the sport she loves. An ATV accident before her freshman year took her left leg and the choice presented itself – Quit or Persevere.
Three months later, Dru was at Perryville High School for the first day of volleyball tryouts. Dru chose to persevere for her love – volleyball. Coach Dave Mirly and Dru began to work with Dru’s new body. Adjustments were made by Dru physically as her nervous system and muscular system had to reintroduce themselves to one another in order to create new patterns of muscle memory. Biomechanics played a large role in how Dru approached her new role on the court. While her center of gravity shifted and her agility took a hit, her mind stayed sharp and ready to learn.
Volleyball-related goals were adjusted, but not scrapped as Dru moved from setter to a substitute back-row specialist. More work is yet to come to learn and adjust to her new position and her new strengths and weaknesses, but Dru will persevere. The game means too much to her to quit.
Perseverance gave Dru an opportunity to continue to pursue her goals. Dru does not feel like an inspirational human being for just continuing to live her life regardless of the obstacles in front of her. The Perryville High School community views her quite differently, not because they doubted her ability to overcome, but because each of us hope that if faced with similar challenges we would do the same, but the truth is we don’t know. Quitting sounds so safe, but persevering sounds so much more fun!
Dru Hemmann never let her eyes drift to the sidelines, it was always going to be game time.
Lindsey Atkinson is a coordinator of sports, a member of the inclusion staff and the tennis liaison for the NFHS.