Hobbled Hampton senior stays positive, hopes to return for lacrosse playoffs

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Saturday, April 30, 2022 | 10:01 AM


Hampton’s Rachel Dolan rode a stationary bike on the track at Fridley Field during girls lacrosse practice in mid-April.

Wearing a large black walking boot on her left foot, she wasn’t moving anywhere, but she is hoping to get somewhere soon.

“I’m just trying to stay positive that I will be able to play again eventually,” she said. “I’m going to do my best.”

Dolan, a senior midfielder, is recovering from a stress fracture in her left foot that has put her final season of lacrosse in jeopardy.

One of four team captains, Dolan “started to feel a little bit of pain” in late March-early April, about two weeks into the season. She tried to push through as “it got worse and worse,” but she couldn’t hide the discomfort from her coach, Kelsey Burke.

“It’s been bothering her, but she was worried about getting it looked at because she knew it was probably something that would take her off the field,” Burke said following the team’s April 14 workout. “But at practice last week, I saw that she was in pain. I sent her to the trainer and I told her to take it easy and get evaluated and we would take it from there.”

Dolan was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her third metatarsal, the second-longest metatarsal in the foot. Typical recovery time is six to 12 weeks, with the most important treatment being rest. Dolan is hoping to return in time for the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, which are slated to begin May 16, about six weeks after the injury.

The Talbots (6-0 in section, 7-4 overall as of April 25) are virtually assured of reaching the postseason. They went undefeated in section play last season and, as of mid-April, have won 20 straight Section 1-2A games dating to 2019. The top six finishers in the 11-team section advance to the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs.

“My heart breaks when girls get injured, regardless of what grade they are in,” Burke said. “For seniors, it is especially disappointing because I know how much they want it. It’s really tough.

“The silver lining is hopefully it’s not a season-ending injury and we can get her in there whether it’s toward the end of the regular season and we have our eyes on playoffs.

“We’ll get her in the playoffs.”

Dolan, who missed her sophomore season when the covid pandemic canceled all spring sports in 2020, is keeping upbeat during the process.

“I try to stay positive for the team and be hopeful,” she said. “I don’t like to stay negative for too long. I try to make the best of the situation.”

Dolan, who ran cross country in the fall after playing volleyball for her first three seasons, doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Over the years, she has also competed in gymnastics, basketball, soccer and swimming. Much of her incentive is derived from home, where her mother, Bethann, provides a steady source of motivation.

In March 2006 — when Rachel was 2 — Bethann Dolan suddenly lost feeling in her arms. Within 30 minutes, she was paralyzed below the neck. She was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a rare sudden-onset neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. But with the use of a motorized wheelchair, she continues to teach.

“I think looking at everything that she’s overcome in her life gives me motivation that I, too, can overcome a lot despite what it is,” Rachel Dolan said. “And just seeing how many lives that she has touched gives me motivation to try to be as good as I can.”

Dolan, whose older sister Elizabeth played lacrosse at Hampton, has taken over various duties at home, including doing much of the cooking. Rachel also is active with her church, Elfinwild United Presbyterian.

“She is probably one of the highest achievers of volunteer service hours on our team, and she’s a phenomenal student in the classroom,” Burke said. “She has an incredible amount of maturity. … She’s able to see what’s really important.”

At home, Dolan said cooking has become a passion. Her chicken parmesan, especially, is a big hit.

“I just like to adventure out and test new recipes and see what works and see what doesn’t,” she said. “I will cook dinner a lot. My parents have done a lot for me throughout my life. This is another way I can give back to them because of everything they’ve done and sacrificed for me.”

Dolan, who will study interior design at the University of Cincinnati, has stayed active with the Talbots. She attends every practice and game, providing support in her captain role.

“She’s determined to be here,” Burke said. “Even if she’s not on the field active in drills, she’s a leader on the sideline.”

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