Badminton: Lincoln-Way East’s Courtney Matheu makes impressive recovery
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media April 20, 2014 4:32PM
Courtney Matheu for Lincoln-Way East Badminton for Spring Photo Day at Andrew High School, Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 in Tinley Park | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 22, 2014 6:18AM
Lincoln-Way East’s Courtney Matheu was looking ahead, and she was worried.
Just months away from the end of her high school career, Matheu thought she was going to miss out on all those things seniors look forward to, especially prom and graduation.
Why? No, not because of issues with grades or classes.
A badminton player and cross country runner, Matheu broke both her tibias during cross country season. The projected recovery time for the senior to walk again was six months.
That might be intimidating to most. Not Matheu.
“I wasn’t sure I would be able to walk across the stage at graduation,” she said. “I was worried about all the senior year stuff. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take part in any of it. My legs ended up healing quicker than we thought, and I was so happy.”
Matheu is one busy high school senior. She runs cross country. She does competitive dance. And come spring, she does her favorite sport, badminton.
Her badminton season was in serious doubt though after Matheu pushed her way through some serious leg pains throughout the cross country.
After completing the season at the SouthWest Suburban Blue meet, she went to see a doctor. X-rays revealed serious breaks in both tibias.
“I thought it was common shin splints, and I pushed them aside because everyone (runners) does,” Matheu said. “I kept on running, and by my last race they hurt so bad I knew something was wrong.”
She collapsed after the conference race, her legs finally giving out.
After the diagnosis of two broken legs — one tibia was almost completely snapped through — Matheu used a wheelchair for several months. Then, she moved on to crutches and then leg braces.
“It killed me because I love to run, love to dance, and I knew that badminton was coming up,” Matheu said. “That’s my sport, so I didn’t want to miss the season.”
All the while, her eyes were set on badminton. Her confidence never wavered.
“I’d see Courtney in the wheelchair in the halls at school, and she’d say ‘I’ll be ready for badminton!’ ” Lincoln-Way East coach Ryan Pohlmann said. “That’s just her personality. She was ready to go.”
When badminton season opened, Matheu was there, ready to go, way ahead of schedule.
The senior has been there throughout, juggling Nos. 1 and 2 singles with fellow senior Elaine Trinh.
As far as trying to avoid another serious leg injury, it’s all a matter of awareness for Matheu. Pohlmann said Matheu ices her legs after all practices and sometimes plays doubles at tournaments to help avoid the wear and tear of matches on her legs.
Matheu will attend Northern Michigan in the fall. She hopes to earn a degree in pre-med. For now, she will settle on finishing out her senior year, dancing at prom and walking across the stage at graduation.