Not without a few bumps in the road

Will Hoey’s return to volleyball has been anything but easy 

Will Hoey (18) played his first game of the year against RMC on January 15.
Will Hoey (18) played his first game of the year against RMC on January 15.
Credit: 
Supplied by Ian Macalpine

Will Hoey, the men’s volleyball team’s 6’11” star middle, hasn’t had an easy time during his five-year stint wearing tricolour. This season alone, injury has forced him to remain on the sidelines for nine of the team’s 11 games.

Making his debut halfway through the season, Hoey put up an efficient 10 kills on 12 attempts in the Gaels’ victory against the RMC Paladins two weeks ago. He followed up the performance a week later, again against the Paladins, with 11 kills and 7 digs.

“I forgot what it was like to play volleyball for a long time, because I didn’t play for 11 months,” Hoey said. “It’s pretty surreal. For instance, before our first RMC game, I didn’t get any sleep because I forgot how excited I got to play games.” 

But getting back on the court has been a long and difficult journey for Hoey, going as far back as his first year in a five-year career as a Gael.

In his first year, he dislocated his knee for the first time. From that point onward, his knee became easier and easier to dislocate, until he had completely torn his medial tendon, which keeps the knee in place. The last time his knee dislocated, Hoey was simply throwing a football. He planted his leg as he stepped forward to launch the ball and his knee just slipped out. 

In April of 2015, Hoey had to undergo an MPFL reconstruction to repair the damage that was caused by these dislocations. Recovery from that surgery took six months, and when he came back to Queen’s, he developed tendonitis in his patellar tendon, which sits at the top of the knee. 

The tendonitis lead to Hoey suffering two quad tears, in January and February of 2016, which have taken him a substantial amount of time to recover from.  

Hoey says that his journey with sport injuries have been tough, not only physically, but mentally as well. “With a lot of surgeries you get, you get it because you aren’t healthy in that moment. It was difficult for me to think, ‘I’m walking into this room and I’m not going to be able to walk out.’”

Recovery, particularly jumping recovery, has been difficult for the self-described “bouncy and jumpy” player. “Jumping recovery is annoying, because you’re building up the tolerance that your knee can take. It’s a very slow process,” Hoey said. 

Hoey said his recovery routine started with rehab for the injury, and then building strength and power. 

These injuries were difficult for Hoey not only because they derailed his career playing volleyball with the Gaels, but also because they threatened to stop his beach volleyball career, which Hoey refers to as his “preferred sport.” 

Rather than going straight into his indoor season, Hoey took the first four months to rehab, saving his legs for the latter half of the OUA year and his beach volleyball system. Hoey said his coach and teammates were supportive of this difficult decision. 

The men’s volleyball team graduated six of its players last season and has nine rookies this year. Hoey saw his time stuck on the sidelines as an opportunity for the team to develop its bench and get younger players quality game time. 

“It was also beneficial,” Hoey said. “I’m graduating this season. We had two rookies and a second year that we just moved to the position, Dylan Hunt. So me being out gave them the opportunity to play more.”      

While he was unable to play, Hoey transitioned his role on the sidelines to more of a coaching role for the younger players, which he enjoyed. “I feel strongly about having a good influence on the young guys because my fifth-year vet, Jackson Dakin, was a huge role model to me, and I hope that I can affect them the way he affected me.”

Even though he had a difficult five seasons, Hoey has fond memories of his time as a Gael. “The past four years alongside Markus [Trence], Thomas [Ellison] and Jamie [Wright] have been incredible, and having Austin [Payne] back on the team has made this season a lot of fun.”

Hoey is looking forward to finishing his last three months as a Gael on a strong note. “I couldn’t be more excited to take this one to an OUA medal,” Hoey said. 

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