From OBU Sports
By Morgan Davenport
SHAWNEE – Derrick Rose.
Apart from the scandals and mundane media-frenzy surrounding these “A-List” names stands the sole reason for their grouping: seasoning-ending injuries. And while she might not be a scandal-happy “A-Lister,” junior middle hitter Cadyn Laing pushed past the struggle that these same major-leaguers experienced after a serious ankle injury voided her 2015 season.
An early education major, Laing visited Oklahoma Baptist from her hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas, after playing prep volleyball for 12 years. Every year, the Lady Bison volleyball team holds an annual tryout for those who may not have gotten exposure in high school or, like Laing, “came [to OBU] on a whim.”
“I randomly tried out and Anna saw potential in me,” Laing said. “We had some conversation after the tryout and she made me feel very comfortable and I felt self worth.”
In the Face of the Storm
“[It was] our very first home game,” Laing said. “It didn’t even happen in the game – it happened in the warm up. I landed on my teammate’s foot and I could hear the crackling in my ankle.
“I looked at [Coach Anna Howle] and said, ‘I can’t walk.’ Her reaction was to problem-solve because it happened right before a game and us having no extra middles was a shock, so she had to think fast.”
The injury didn’t strain the athlete-coach relationship, however, as Laing quotes Howle as “one of the most important people in [her] life.”
“We have a really good relationship on and off the court,” Laing said. “On the court, she’s my coach. Off the court, she’s one of my people – I’ll probably ask her to be in my wedding.”
Laing and some of her teammates are so close to their coach that they dressed up as the Howle family for Halloween – children and all.
In fact, the ankle injury strengthened her as a person and teammate.
Returning to the Court
“Coming from having to sit back and watch to being able to play again has changed my role immensely,” she said. “I kind of went from being a cheerleader back to being a player again. Now, I feel like my role is to be a leader.”
The 6-1 junior earned first-team All-District and Newcomer of the Year awards her sophomore season and added first team All-OklahomaSports.Net and second team All-Great American Conference honors in her redshirt-junior campaign. She was also honored as a GAC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week. For the season, Laing is averaging 2.15 kills per set and 1.05 blocks per set.
“I went from going through the motions to appreciating my talents,” Laing said. “[The injury] made me so much more humble. Having setbacks is something you can let affect you negatively or positively.
“It was hard to not let it get the best of me. I had a choice and I chose to put it all in God’s hands – He gave me these circumstances, so I accepted it.”
She cites the setback as an instigator in growing her relationship with the Lord.
“It’s been to where it hasn’t ever been before. Everything happens for a reason. After all of this and everything leading up to it, I truly believe that.”
As the 2016 season nears its end and OBU’s provisional status halting the Lady Bison’s NCAA postseason, Laing expects continued growth from herself and teammates heading into National Christian College Athletics Association National Tournament later this week.
“I am ready to get better! I love this game so much more now and appreciate it more that I ever have,” she said. “I want to get stronger, smarter and I want to have a good relationship with my teammates.
“My senior year is coming up – I want to make it a good one.”