PEORIA – Getting her start with the sport of volleyball in the fourth grade, Courtney Keefe is set to enter uncharted waters over the next few months as she takes a redshirt year at Bradley University because of an injury.
First hurting her right foot in the spring of 2012, the Lemont graduate is now recovering from a fracture that will cause her to miss the Braves’ 2013 campaign. She recently got out of a walking boot and began rehab last week, and she could be cleared for cardio work in a few weeks.
“Allie Falter is a redshirt junior this year and Alise Tupuritis is a redshirt senior,” Keefe said, “They’ve been helping me out, telling me what to expect. They have been awesome teammates.
“It’s pretty weird because I definitely want to be playing as much as possible. I’m enjoying the break but I’d much rather be playing.”
A dominant player while at Lemont, finishing her prep career with 901 kills, Keefe has been a major contributor at the college level and her absence will leave a void for the Braves. A year ago, she started 25 matches, appeared in every game, and showed her true versatility by finishing fourth on the team in kills and second in digs.
“That’s my favorite thing to talk about,” she said. “Not every player can do that, usually a player is stronger at either hitting or passing. If you can do both, that makes you kind of a go-to person. You are always out there and people look to you. I love having that role.”
As a team, Bradley has finished under .500 the past two years but Keefe feels a turnaround is not out of the question. And the junior will be there every step of the way as she is allowed to travel with the team and go to practices.
“Even though our record didn’t show it, we got a lot done last year,” she said. “We learned a lot as a team. Going through every match, some of what we did was right and some of what we did was wrong, and we tried to build off that.
“I’m excited about this year. We’ve been doing a lot more together in the gym and out of the gym. Our team is a lot closer and it’s going to be a whole different atmosphere. We’ve got good team chemistry.”
As for her future, after graduation and the end of her volleyball career, Keefe is majoring in elementary education but recently took a liking to another possible job.
“I was talking to our athletic adviser recently and I am kind of interested in what she does,” Keefe said. “I will probably still do teaching because I love working with kids but I could end up being at a college. I wouldn’t mind being around sports for the rest of my life.”