Megan Marchand closed her right eye in attempt to apply make up during a 2013 summer vacation. But as she tried to look at herself in the mirror through her left eye, she couldn’t see her face.
“I thought I had sand in my eye or it wasn’t anything serious,” Marchand said.
So she brushed it off. But in late-September her vision worsened. She met with an optometrist and a specialist. The specialist immediately identified an unusual problem for a high school athlete to have — a detached retina.
“Within five seconds of looking at my eye, (the doctor) said ‘You have a detached retina, and if you don’t go get this fixed immediately, you will go blind,’ ” Marchand recalled.
So at 6 a.m. the next morning, Marchand had successful surgery but was sidelined from volleyball and school for three weeks. But before she went home from surgery, Marchand stopped at St. Amant to talk to her coach, Allison Leake.
“I want to get back. I want to play,” Marchand told Leake. “There’s no way I’m not going to step out on the court again.”
Marchand’s determination was no surprise to Leake or anyone else who knows her.
The honor-roll student, now a junior, is a three-sport athlete who competes in volleyball, basketball and softball. When she was forced to stop all physical activity, it was a big adjustment. Now she’s making the adjustment again, thanks to a knee injury suffered last week.
“I didn’t exactly know how to handle it at first because I went from volleyball everyday and running and working out to not being able to walk for five minutes without getting a headache,” she said, recalling the adjustment a year ago.
Marchand wasn’t supposed to be medically released to play until May 2014. In January she was allowed to play — four months earlier than expected. Detached retinas usually occur in middle-aged adults, so Marchand’s young immune system played a factor in her quick healing.
Healing was one thing, adjusting to wearing the goggles she’s required to wear in all sports was another. The generic goggles she wears have caused injuries. While playing basketball this summer, a ball hit her in the face and cut her above the eye, sidelining her for a few games.
Her family sought help from Nike. In 2011, Amar’e Stoudemire and Nike collaborated to create custom goggles after Stoudemire suffered multiple eye injuries. The Nike goggles don’t slip out of place or fog up like the generic ones. However, Nike doesn’t sell those goggles to the public.
“(The Nike goggles) would help me a lot,” Marchand said. “The glasses I have now fog up and fall off my face, and if I get hit, it busts my eyes open. They should sell them to anyone else who needs them.”
Now there’s the knee injury. Marchand dislocated her kneecap and sprained her MCL and patella tendon during the Gators’ match with St. Thomas More. She is expected to miss another two to three weeks, but hopes to get back sooner.
“I want to make sure everything comes back right because I know it’s not going to take the entire season,” she said. “I want to come back strong so I can eventually be on the court. I want to be able to help my team out as best I can, so I want to be as strong as possible.”
“As bad as it sounds, it’s not as bad as we thought it was going to be,” Leake said of the injury. “It’s better news than what we originally thought. Just to be able to have her come back and play in a couple of weeks. … I think we can handle that.
“She’s definitely a fighter. I think there are a lot of kids that would have sulked. There would be a lot of kids that wouldn’t be so determined.”