Past knee injuries no longer a concern for Brock in her senior season


Vanessa Dickerson/The Seahawk

Sydney Brock.

Vanessa Dickerson, Contributing Writer

Sydney Brock, the only senior on UNC Wilmington’s volleyball team, is back for the second-straight year after recovering from two knee surgeries that hindered her first two seasons for the Seahawks.

Brock started off as a promising recruit out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas. She spent her junior year of high school wondering what sport to pursue post-high school: basketball or volleyball. She ended up choosing volleyball and was pleasantly surprised to see an email from UNCW about a campus visit.

“I ended up coming out for a visit and fell in love with the people, the campus, just everything was perfect. I committed the day of my visit,” said Brock.

Brock ended up injuring her knee the first time early on in her freshman year. She was a starter at the time – she even earned the Colonial Athletic Association’s Rookie-of-the-Week honor early on in the season.

“It was everything I could’ve hoped for. I was doing really well,” she said.

She went up to hit the slide in a match at William & Mary, came down awkwardly and ended up on the floor with a torn ACL in October 2014. Brock underwent surgery and hoped she could to take care of the injury quickly and get back out onto the court the next year.

Julie Francis, the athletic trainer for UNCW’s volleyball and beach volleyball teams, kept Brock going and motivated. Francis’ job was there to evaluate, treat and rehab the players. According to Brock, Francis went beyond her job description.

“Julie Francis is what keeps me going. She helped me out so much and still does,” Brock said.

After working hard all year to be able to be back by her sophomore year, another unexpected injury came her way. Using her weaker leg, Brock started noticing a harsh pain in her knee once again.

“I get back for preseason for my sophomore year and I’m having pains that I just can’t ignore. I was expecting some pain, but this was a little bit more than I had anticipated,” said Brock.

After seeing a doctor in Wilmington and finding nothing, Brock decided to go to see a specialist back in her home state of Texas to get more answers. This doctor ended up finding a hole in her tibia and a cyst growing inside of her knee. Brock got her second knee surgery in December 2015.

Francis compared the second knee surgery to her first ACL rehab. This meant months of strengthening the muscles around the knee and taking things slow to avoid re-injury, both of which led to Brock feeling defeated at times.

Brock felt Athletic Director Jimmy Bass and the university’s staff helped her through this difficult time in her life. Because of supportive people like Francis, she could make it back and start again.

“It’s a sad realization when you know you’ll never be quite where you were. But as Julie told me, I’m in my new normal,” said Brock.

As far as this season goes, Francis said that Brock had fully recovered and doesn’t have to limit her participation.

“She is at a point where we try to manage her pain on a daily basis. Some days are good days and some days are bad days. And that’s to be expected after having two surgeries on the same knee,” Francis said.

Brock said she is looking forward to the rest of her senior season, in which she has averaged 7.93 points per game, including six kills per game. She considers the volleyball team her family and hopes to leave an impact on the team when her final year on the court is over.