Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center recognizes Athens Academy volleyball athlete Emma Hooper as the Athlete of the Month for November, a program that recognizes high school student athletes for their perseverance through an athletic injury or medical illness either on or off the field.
Hooper, 15, was nominated as the program’s Athlete of the Month following an injury she experienced in her rotator cuff infraspinatus, which is one of four muscles that make up the rotator cuff located in the arm and shoulder.
“This is no easy injury to deal with, especially as a volleyball athlete, because it helps your arm and shoulder move and stay stable – something that’s very important in the sport,” said Eleni Petrou, Piedmont Athens athletic trainer who helps student athletes at Athens Academy. “Luckily, Emma is a hard worker! She sets goals and really puts in the effort to work through her injury and pain and improve her overall performance.”
Hooper’s injury isn’t from one single incident, and she first began noticing pain in her shoulder and rotator cuff while on break from volleyball due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. She’d been practicing at home to ensure she stayed in shape, but quickly sought help when she first noticed pain.
In a ceremony earlier this month, the Athens Academy volleyball team gathered before practice to recognize Hooper as the team’s Athlete of the Month and celebrate her persistence to overcome her injury.
The Athlete of the Month Program was established by Piedmont Athens Regional’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine team in an effort to support and recognize local, hard-working student athletes.
“Each month, we focus on one high school and meet as a committee, which includes the school’s athletic director, other members of their team and members of the athletic training program,” said Katie Terrell, athletic trainer and outreach coordinator for the hospital’s sports medicine program. “These amazing athletes overcome so much in order to play each year, and we wanted to find another way to support them as well as our community.”
After sustaining her injury, Hooper worked with a physician therapist as well as Petrou, athletic trainer, following a strict program that included daily rehabilitation and strengthening exercises for her rotator cuff muscles.
“Thankfully, Emma’s injury was minor and she started working with our team early on before she injury worsened,” said Petrou. “Emma was also able to continue a competitive volleyball season while working on her rehabilitation program!”
Hooper has significantly improved and is working toward a full recovery. As the Athlete of the Month for November, Hooper received an award and will be featured in the Orthopedic Sports Medicine facility located on Piedmont’s Oconee Health Campus in Watkinsville, Ga.
For more information about services offered through Piedmont Physicians Orthopedic Sports Medicine of Athens, visit piedmont.org/AthensOrthoSportsMed.