Back in the game: Pine River athlete returns after scary accident
LEROY — It was what Pine River athletic director Aaron Schab called the “scariest thing” he’s seen since he’s been on the job.
It all happened on a Tuesday, May 5, when Pine River softball player KayLee Goodman, then a freshman, had just finished her game with Beal City. She and her teammates were watching the Beal City-Pine River baseball showdown and were seated on a hill along the left field line.
A Pine River batter pulled a line shot foul and the ball took a freakish bounce and headed over the fence at a high rate of speed.
“It hit on a crazy angle,” Schab said. “I still to this day don’t know how that happened. It took one bounce and accelerated out of bounds.”
Schab and other observers say they remember hearing a sound of the ball hitting something.
The sound they heard was the baseball wickedly hitting Goodman in the right eye. She was holding her eye, before softball coach Laura Mumby pulled her hand away from the eye and then a bloody mess appeared. Goodman, Mumby recalls, lost consciousness temporarily.
“From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see home plate,” Goodman said. “I had no clue.”
“It was incredibly scary,” Schab said. “Her dad luckily was right there and Laura Mumby as well. It was a sickening sound. You could tell right away something happened. I was on the first base line. So I didn’t know who it was. I knew somebody got hit. You could hear it from quite a distance.”
Kyla Johnson, a softball and volleyball teammate of Goodman’s, was sitting in the bleachers on the opposite side of the field.
“I saw the ball hit something but didn’t realize it was a person,” Johnson said. “I walked over there because everyone started to gather over there. I saw the softball players from my team and was worried.”
“By the time I got there, she was conscious with blood pouring from her eye,” Schab said. “Her dad picked her up, they got in the car and were out of there. It was probably the most scared I’ve been as an AD. I’ve never had anything of that nature happen at an event.”
“There were about four girls in a line along with my three kids and another kindergartener down in that area,” Mumby said. “I just knew from the sound of it that it hit somebody in the head. I went down there and she was covering her eye. She wasn’t crying, but was just holding her hand over it.”
Goodman then pulled her hand away from the eye.
“There was blood everywhere, she looked up at me and passed out for about a minute,” Mumby said. “I called for her dad to get a car to take her to the ER.”
Three months later, Goodman, now a sophomore, was in the Pine River gym on Aug. 13 practicing for the volleyball season. She now has 25 percent vision in the right eye. She was initially told by doctors she was would have no vision in that eye. But the visibility is not expected to improve above the 25 percent. She’s wearing protective glasses while she plays.
“When we went to Saginaw camp, that was my first time back into it,” Goodman said, admitting that she was flinching to some extent. “I’ve gotten used to it now.”
Goodman was a freshman volleyball player on the varsity level. She was an outside hitter, her same position this season.
“It went very well,” she recalled. “It was a really big difference. The girls I was playing with helped me a lot.”
Goodman said she ordinarily would be feeling more comfortable as a sophomore. But there’s the eye injury.
“I went to the hospital, had stitches, and they told me I would never see out of my eye again,” Goodman said. “But I see 25 percent. It’s a big difference because I have to wear eye protection. The light bothers me a lot. It’s changed a lot. I have to change how I pass. I can’t tell when the ball is coming right at me.”
Immediately after the incident in May, she was taken to Spectrum in Reed City.
“They couldn’t get her eye open to see it,” Mumby said. “They decided to send her to DeVos (in Grand Rapids). They did X-rays and everything and said she had no bone broken because her eye took the brunt of the impact.”
Goodman was unable to return to classes through the end of the school year.
“Once she got released from DeVos, she was three days a week in therapy at Mary Free Bed,” Mumby said. “She was running back and forth for appointments. She doesn’t recall any part from the softball season.”
Goodman said she recalled hearing Mumby say her name. “What she recalls of it is what she’s been told,” Mumby said. “She recalls waking up in the hospital 4 in the morning and saying ‘I’m glad it was me and not any of those kids that got it.’”
Goodman was playing AAU volleyball prior to her accident. She didn’t play during the summer except for the Saginaw Valley camp. Practices officially started Aug. 12 when she returned to the lineup. Goodman also plays basketball, and is confident she’ll be able to play those sports.
“She’s bounced back so quickly,” Johnson said. “We were worried it might affect her depth perception for awhile. I think she’s gotten into things and is fine.”
“She definitely has some adjustments she’s had to make,” Pine River volleyball coach Jana Dennis said. “I think she’s been trying to figure out how she can compensate. But she’s pretty much picked up where she left off and is playing the same position.”
Dennis noted that Goodman is required by her doctors to wear the glasses to protect her eyes.
“She’s not a big fan of wearing them,” Dennis said. “We’ve told her it has to happen. I think she’ll be able to play fine. She’s a very determined young lady. She’s not going to let the injury keep her down.”
As an outside hitter, Goodman said she uses her hands well and puts the ball where she wants it. She wants to improve on getting more on top of the ball. She likes her team’s prospects.
“We all have things we’re better at,” she said.
The 2016 spring softball season is also likely to present a challenge for Goodman.
“I think she’s still a little scared of the softball field,” Johnson said. “But she’s done very well with athletics.”
“There was some (initial) concern,” Schab said, regarding after-effects Goodman might have sustained from the injury. “Talking to her now, she seems fine.”
But it’s a moment those at the game on May 5 won’t soon forget.
“It’s a whole different feeling when it’s one of your own,” Mumby said. “I just got to the point in the last month that I can finally talk about it without crying.”