Encountering Jesus

Injuries ended sports dreams for aspiring athlete, but God had other plans

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

In about a month Greta Wooldrik will be starting college, meeting new friends, traveling abroad.

The changes are part of her transition from Guardian Angels Central Catholic High School in West Point to South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota.

Amid those changes, it seems Wooldrik will be just fine. She’s used to adventures, even the unplanned kind.

The teen knows from experience to trust that God works in all things, for her good.

Wooldrik, a member of St. Mary Parish in West Point, learned that lesson as a promising high school athlete.

As a freshman she made the varsity basketball team, and as a sophomore played on a varsity volleyball team that made it to the state tournament. The young athlete worked hard and was determined.

But knee injuries blunted her sports dreams. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing basketball as a freshman and again while playing volleyball as a sophomore.

“At first I thought it was just ironic,” Wooldrik said. “I thought, a little bit, that it was the end of everything. I was pretty down about it.”

Her father, Mark Wooldrik, suggested she try speech. “And I was like, ‘I don’t know, Dad.’ But he knew, and it just opened up. It was really cool.”

Greta not only enjoyed crafting and giving speeches, she excelled, winning state championships all three years she competed.

That accomplishment is practically unheard of in the Nebraska high school competition, her speech coach, Kylie Kai, said. “A back-to-back state champion medal is very rare, let alone three in a row.” 

If not for the knee injuries, Wooldrik said, she would not have discovered her speech talents. “It just shows how God works. I feel extremely blessed.”

The injuries “100% opened the doorway for speech,” she said. “I was very much sports-oriented. Volleyball, basketball, track – I only wanted to do that. I never really thought of anything else. So I am blessed to have found speech and choir and band and everything.”

South Dakota State asked Wooldrik to consider joining the speech team there, but the incoming freshman said she decided to focus on her studies and look at all her options for clubs and activities. Next month, she will be traveling to Malaysia with other freshmen.

Wooldrik will major in agricultural business and minor in communications at South Dakota State.

She said she’ll be visiting the Pius XII Newman Center on campus, too, deepening the faith passed on by her father and mother, Michelle – and looking for whatever new opportunities God has planned for her.

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you … plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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