Ellie Perseveres: Huls stands tall in the circle
July 1st, 2017 was the day that forever changed the trajectory of Ellie Huls' life.
An ATV accident and the ensuing infection forced doctors to remove Ellie's left arm.
"It was definitely sad and I was scared too", remembers Ellie. very "But then the doctors also came and told me that if we tried to keep it, then there would be no way I'd be here."
More than wondering about living life with one arm, Ellie was concerned about how she might continue playing softball, the sport that she loves.
Ellie's mom Jaime Huls says, "One of the first things she said to the doctor was, 'I'm never going to pitch again'."
Ellie adds, "My coach actually came to the hospital when I was there and we talked about how I'd still be able to play. At first we were thinking maybe outfield. But I still wanted to pitch so he was like, 'okay then we'll try it'."
Sibley-Ocheyedan softball coach Luke Schouten says, "Right away when the injury happened, I could see her concern for the potential of what was going to happen. And Ellie was determined to pitch. And because of that, I started to say, what do we need to do? What do we need to learn?"
Ellie is a 3-sport athlete at Sibley-Ocheyedan and she was already back on the volleyball court last fall. But all the while, she and coach Schouten were tinkering with different techniques to get her back in the circle.
"We just haven't seen any other girl, especially at the high school level pitching at varsity level", says Schouten. "So we decided that it was going to be a little bit of trial and error."
Ellie adds, "I had to learn how to learn to put my glove back on. So what I do is I hold it under my elbow. Then I'll pitch the ball and when I'm done pitching I'll throw the glove on real quick so I can play defense. So if the ball comes to me I can make the play. I have to work a lot harder than I used to. It's difficult sometimes, but then again I love it."
Making this process even more manageable has been the support of the community around her. "On facebook I had hundreds of comments saying that I was staying strong and that they were proud of me."
Jaime adds, "I video'd the first night that she pitched and all you can hear in the background is, 'you got this bud, go Ellie!'."
Having only finished her freshman year, her story continues to inspire those around her. Schouten says, "I just feel very lucky that I can coach someone like that. It's even teaching me a lot about who people can be."
More than that, Ellie has seen a chance in herself that she never could have expected.
"I know now that I can handle things better. And I don't get as worked up about littler things that I don't do so good. I didn't think I was this strong. I thought I was kind of a wimp before this, but now I feel stronger."