Rebecca Morrissette: A Glimspe of Hope

On the surface of her charming and timid persona, it’s easy to see the sincerity and courage that lies inside. Her modesty and willingness to succeed is something to be envied and emulated, and the strength that she’s possessed to keep moving forward through great adversity is something inspiring.
For junior forensics major, Rebecca Morrissette, life has been a spiral of extreme ups and downs, and ultimately a reflection of the type of person that she’s molded into today. By the time she entered high school, Morrissette, began noticing a sharp, uncomfortable pain in her knees that forced her to seek orthopedic assistance. On the verge of trying out for her high school basketball team in Chester, VA, she and her family sought the medical attention of one of the best orthopedic doctor’s in Virginia. To her despair and astonishment, she was diagnosed with Osgood- Schlatter’s disease, which caused inflammation, pain, and swelling of the bone and cartilage of the shin. An x-ray revealed a patellar dislocation of her knee, a condition in which the patella is unable to support ligaments and tendons surrounding the knee, and causes extreme discomfort. Although these injuries are common for female athletes, the orthopedic surgeon recommended a large surgical procedure to repair the knee with screws and other mechanical incisions. Unfortunately, this meant that Morrissette’s playing career would be over and her dream of playing college basketball diminished.
“Sports were my life. I tried to focus and take my mind off of this terrible news, but athletics is all I really knew at that point. I tried to focus my time on school, but it was really difficult. I felt disappointed, I cried, and felt a lot of loneliness for a long period after the diagnosis,” said Morrissette.
At age 10, Morrissette hit an extreme growth spurt that would later inhibit her ability to play sports, and grew an astounding foot and a half over the course of a year. Having a deep love for the game of basketball, Morrissette saw this rapid growth as a blessing for her sports career and embraced the change. From age six and on, she had been a part of a number of recreational basketball teams and was even selected to play in a special AAU league for gifted players. It seemed as though she had the talent and capacity to develop into a great player and hoped to use her gift as a way to get to college. Throughout her life, her father, Doug Morrissette, had been a shining symbol of encouragement and always pushed her to be the best athlete and individual that she could be. Once the realization was met that she would not be playing basketball anymore, her family and friends offered her amazing support and encouraged her to keep moving forward and battle through the unfavorable situation that she was in.
“My family showed me a lot of support during these tough times. My dad seemed to take it as hard as I did. As for my friends, they showed support by telling me that there were other ways to succeed and be happy. Everyone definitely provided me with fuel and courage to seek other passions,” explained Morrissette.
Looking towards the future, she used her love for music and science as an outlet to guide herself towards a new beginning and to fulfill a deep void that was so abruptly pushed onto her. Using the vast support system around her as inspiration, she began taking trumpet lessons and joined the marching band at Thomas Dale High School. As time moved forward, her wounds from years of agonizing pain and numerous surgeries now seemed obsolete and a clear vision of her future was put into perspective. She practiced religiously and developed into one of the most talented brass instrument player’s at her school. When she came to VCU in the Fall of 2009, Morrissette knew that she wanted to keep playing music, but still yearned to be a part of the athletic scene that she so deeply missed. As a result, she joined the VCU pep band and began playing fight songs for the VCU basketball teams. It offered her a chance to be around basketball while still embracing her passion for music.
“It worked out really well as an alternative to playing sports. Going to the NCAA tournament was awesome and being around basketball was still really important to me. I met all my VCU friends there and it’s just a huge support system that’s allowed me to be a part of something bigger than myself,” she said.
Seeing the smiles in the crowd from her family and friends who often come out to cheer her on, Morrissette now understands that life is filled with obstacles and how one deals with adversity really shows the true character of that person. She feels no need to dwell on the past and instead looks towards her future success by concentrating on a grueling Forensics Program, juggling a part-time job, and playing music in the pep band. Even through years of battling her own uncertainties, Morrissette still remains positive and continues to keep a smile on her face. Her story is one of triumph, adversity, and perseverance and shows that no matter what challenges we face, there is always a way to realize our dreams.

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