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On The Heart Beat

Sports Hearts: Organic Love Pumps

Sports Hearts:  Organic Love Pumps
Published: 2021-10-07

This scribe's heartbeat resembles a garage band drummer with a broken wrist, so he regularly visits a cardiologist who works on regulating it.

During a recent visit and the regular friendly chit-chat about our mutual loved ones, she told of the heartache her 13-year-old daughter Imani was experiencing.

Imani, whose growth we’ve followed from birth, has enjoyed a spin as a figure skater, but lately turned her keen interest to volleyball—a game she’ll play again, she says. 

For now, however, Imani’s kneecap which was torn away from its stable position in a mishap keeps her off the court and one foot. 

While heart doc mom, Camille, spoke of Imani’s volleyball passion it sparked connectricity only traceable to serendipity. 

Days earlier we’d been working with volleyball Olympian Donald Suxho owner of a heart-wrenching rehab and life story of his own who'd been coaching another young athlete of note—the daughter of a famous tennis star.

So, knowing Donald’s compassion meter always runs high, we told him of Imani’s plight.  What ensued was laudable, and predictable.

Excerpts from Donald’s letter to Imani:

“But one day, I ruptured my Achilles in half. As I laid down on the floor, crying, I started to realize that my quest for a 2nd Olympics in China was out that day.

After I had the surgery, I turned back to the USA and had to make a decision--stop the sport I love or fight hard, recover and earn my spot back to USA Olympic Team. I can't lie, watching my teammates win Gold in China was hard to endure, but it gave me a sense of purpose and motivation.

I decided, as we are all athletes and we are competitive that it was going to be a Game: Me vs Achilles.

Funny enough, in 8 months I came back stronger and better. I played for an extra 8 years, London Olympics and professionally.

I know it's tough today for you, Imani, but as the saying goes: control what you can control, and that is Today. Nothing else matters and you will do just great. Keep chipping away each day, stay on top of your recovery and stay positive.”

And Imani’s response epitomizes the power of heartfelt compassion and coaching:  

Mr. Suxho:

Thank you very much for your letter. It is very encouraging. I appreciate you taking the time to write to me. It’s really cool to receive an email from an Olympian.

I will continue to work hard to get better so I can rejoin my team.

The power of heartfelt encouragement between athletes in episodes like this shows that in the chests of sports' men, women and kids beat organs that pump a special sort of love.