Eva Grace gave herself a pep talk as she prepared for the Division II sectional girls golf tournament Sept. 25 at Blacklick Woods.
Putting behind what occurred about a year ago wasn’t proving to be the easiest thing for the Ready High School junior, but she was determined not to let fear overtake her.
“(It was) scary,” Grace said. “I was actually crying going up to the tee to go tee off. I said a little prayer and said it’s going to be different. I’m going to be OK.”
It was Sept. 30, 2016, when Grace’s peace was shaken.
The Silver Knights were participating in a sectional at Mill Creek that day, and Grace didn’t feel like herself as she began competing.
Despite being just 16 years old, she was having a stroke.
“I felt butterflies all over,” Grace said. “I thought it was probably just nerves, but it wasn’t. I was swinging the golf club and my eyes were blurry. They were fluttering and I couldn’t see. When I was swinging the golf club, my right hand wouldn’t hold on.”
Her mother, Amy Grace, could sense something was wrong when her daughter put a club in her bag upside down. She also noticed Eva drop her club at one point and walk in the opposite direction.
“I couldn’t talk either,” Eva said. “I felt my face drooping. I felt like I was smiling and the girls I was playing with were asking me if I was OK.”
She wasn’t able to complete the round and instead was rushed to the hospital.
It was determined that Eva had a blood clot on the left side of her brain that caused a left middle cerebral artery stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA.
“There’s no explanation for it,” Amy Grace said. “There’s nothing in her family history, genetic makeup, nothing definitive to say why it happened. They think it was like the perfect storm.”
Within three hours of being taken to the hospital, Eva was given a tissue plasminogen activator, which is known as a clot buster, and within the next two hours had a throm-bectomy performed to remove the clot from her brain.
She was in the hospital for four days.
“Physically within a couple days she was fine,” Amy Grace said. “(She) improved significantly quickly. The first day she couldn’t speak or say anybody’s name except for mine. … She was physically exhausted all the time.
“Most people wouldn’t notice it (now). She’s phenomenal at anatomy and chemistry. She can do everything an average junior can be doing but she’s not an average junior, she’s an above-average junior.”
Shortly after the stroke, Eva remembers at one point requesting broccoli cheese soup but instead saying she wanted a smoothie.
Once those moments subsided, the biggest battle was with regaining her physical strength and overcoming what her mother compares to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
When it was time for Ready to pick which sectional to compete in this season, it was decided it would be best to avoid Mill Creek for Eva’s emotional sake.
“They understood I didn’t want to go to Mill Creek and that we were going to play (at Blacklick Woods) or they were going to play without me,” Eva said. “I woke up (Sept. 25) and was like, ‘I don’t want to go. You can’t make me.’ I got here and I was terrified, but I was hitting balls and I was hitting OK and we’re going to go tee off and there were almost tears running down my face because I was so nervous.”
She battled through the memory of last year’s painful sectional experience to shoot a 106, a personal-best score for 18 holes and her team’s best score in the event. The Knights finished eighth (544) of nine teams behind champion Newark Catholic (340) as the top three advanced to district.
During the offseason after Dan DeCrane stepped down as coach, Tom Watson, who is Eva’s grandfather, took over.
She and her family had a “life celebration” party Sept. 30 because, as her mom put it: “She feels like she’s kicked her stroke’s butt.”
“For her to get through (the sectional) was a major hurdle. There have been a lot of milestones lately,” Watson said. “She’s been my sidekick for a while. I took her out when she was a kid and she’s continued to improve. To shoot a 106 I thought was pretty good.”
Football team preps for Hawks
The football team will try to snap a seven-game losing streak against Hartley when it plays host to the Hawks on Friday, Oct. 6, at DeSales.
After beating Amanda-Clearcreek 28-0 on Sept. 29 at Upper Arlington, the Knights are 5-1 and on a five-game winning streak.
Running back Jack Foley rushed for 239 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Austin Aiello was 13-for-17 passing for 132 yards and two scores.
Although Hartley is now competing in the CCL with DeSales, St. Charles and Watterson, Ready would be considered the CCL-Gold Division champion if it beats the Hawks.
Hartley, which won the last two Division IV state titles, improved to 5-1 by beating Watterson 34-0 on Sept. 29.
Cross country coach pleased with progress
The boys and girls cross country teams have one meet remaining before the CCL championships are held Oct. 14 at Otterbein University.
On Sept. 23 in the Madison Christian Invitational, the boys scored 53 points to place behind Village Academy (23) and ahead of Horizon Science (55) and the girls scored 58 to place behind Village Academy (22) and the host Eagles (43).
Evan Cordle and Grant Cordle have been the boys team’s top runners all season, and they finished second (19 minutes, 15 seconds) and seventh (20:08), respectively.
Brigitte Bowman is the girls team’s No. 1 runner. She finished third in a season-best 24:07 at Madison Christian.
“Last year we started the season with just four kids so we just wanted to get more kids out,” coach Rich Green said. “Now a lot of the kids are coming to me with goals like, ‘How can we make it out of district?’ It’s really encouraging. The kids are all giving great effort.”
Boys soccer team preps for tourney
The boys soccer team will learn its Division III district tournament draw Sunday, Oct. 8.
The Knights, who beat Patriot Prep 7-0 on Sept. 14 and Village Academy 2-0 on Sept. 20, were 2-7-2 overall and 0-3 in the CCL before closing the league schedule Oct. 3 against Watterson.
Jordan Gantz scored both goals and Bailey Garren had four saves against Village Academy.
Among Ready’s remaining games are matchups Saturday, Oct. 7, at home against Williamsport Westfall and Oct. 12 at Tree of Life. Both teams have losing records.
“We’ve shown flashes of brilliance but have been kind of up and down,” coach Cam-eron VanTilburg said. “We’ve got some winnable games at the end of the season.”
Below are the coming schedules for the Ready cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 7 – Johnstown Invitational
Oct. 7 – Home vs. Williamsport Westfall
Oct. 10 – At West Jefferson
*Oct. 5 – Home vs. Watterson
*Oct. 7 – At Columbus School for Girls
Oct. 10 – Home vs. Columbus Academy
Oct. 11 – Home vs. Columbus International
Oct. 5, 7 – Division II sectional at Columbus Academy. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 12 at CSG and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.
Oct. 9 – At Worthington Kilbourne
Oct. 11 – Home vs. Galion Northmor