Following a terrible fall from a rooftop balcony, Hailey Smith was left paralyzed from the waist down. Her accident didn’t sway her from finding meaning, and purpose past it.
IJAMSVILLE, Md. (WDVM) – On November 15th, 2019; Hailey Smith’s life changed forever, when she suffered a terrible injury after falling from a rooftop balcony at a friend’s place; which left her paralyzed from the waist down.
Fast forward almost two years, on Wednesday May 19th, 2021; Hailey took the field for Urbana High’s softball senior night, using the help of leg braces. A team she has been a part of, since her freshman year.
“It was exciting” said Hailey Smith, when she learned about the surprise set up for her on Senior Night, “I haven’t been on the field like that in two years, it was pretty emotional for me.”
Hailey broke her 10th thoracic vertebrae (T10), forcing her to reshape, and adjust her life completely. But despite such drastic change; sports were always going to be a part of her life.
“When we held our Return to Play (RTP) activities this past September-October, she contacted me and asked if she could participate.” said Coach Husson, “And I told her ‘Absolutely!’. When she came out, she was like another coach on the field, the pod she was working with, she was taking the younger girls off to the side, working with the younger girls, teaching them the way we wanted to have things done at Urbana High. A number of times, I found myself sitting back and watching her coach the girls. That still happens out here today.”
‘Coach’, ‘Teammate’, ‘Friend’; there’s plenty of nouns that you can use to describe Hailey. but flip it to an adjective, and the one that keeps popping up in her circle is ‘Inspiring’.
“She was an inspiration from the moment she suffered this injury.” said Head Coach Frank Husson, “I spoke with her mother, and then with Hailey about four days after she had the accident. Her resilience impressed me, I came away from that conversation feeling better about that situation.”
“She inspires me everyday.” said Heather Smith, Hailey’s mom, “Everything she does is hard, and she makes it look so easy.”
“She’s always there for us, picking us – everyone up.” said Urbana’s Spencer Rupinta, “Always has a good attitude about everything.”
Senior Night carries a lot of weight for a high school athlete’s career, and with this year, you add on the extra emotional weight, having overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. For Hailey, and her community; May 19th, 2021 held even more special.
“Hailey’s changed a lot over the years.” said Hailey, “Full of energy, didn’t think anything could stop me. And then after I had to grow up kind of. Learning all these new things. Definitely have a better – positive attitude about everything – and just – trying to be happy.”