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St. Bede senior Rachel Dose prepares to hit the ball during a match earlier this season. Dose, who qualified for state, plays tennis despite dealing with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which includes excessive heart rate, irregular blood pressure and lack of energy and causes her to pass out. NewsTribune file photo
Perception is a funny thing. Take sports for instance.
Some say sports are just a game and should be forgotten as soon as the final buzzer ends. Others view them as simply entertainment, a work cooler conversation starter. Then there is the diehard fan who dedicates plenty of hours and money to honoring his favorite team.
For St. Bede’s No. 1 singles player Rachel Dose, tennis is much more than a sport. It’s a break from life.
“It gives me a chance to let go of everything and just to have fun while I’m out there,” Dose said. “I just love it so much. It’s that free zone that allows me to forget everything when I walk in between those lines.”
Dose suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, better known as POTS. It is a physical condition involving excessive heart rates, irregular blood pressure and lack of energy.
POTS found Dose during her sophomore year at St. Bede and used to make her pass out once or twice a week because her blood and oxygen didn’t get where it needed, she said.
Dose said she passes out randomly, whether during physical activity or watching a movie.
Through drinking 80 ounces of water a day, eating healthier food, sleeping at least nine hours a night and taking an iron pill every day, the fainting spells have dropped to once every month or two.
Even though she searches deep within for every bit of energy she can, she still grabs her tennis racquet and performs at a high level.
“I maintained a positive attitude that I could get through it and I just have to physically push myself through it because I wanted to play tennis,” Dose said. “There are some meets where I wasn’t able to participate because I wasn’t feeling well and it was really hard for me. I had to push through it.”
Dose entered the Ottawa Sectional as a No. 3 seed and won her first two matches to help her qualify for state. Her journey to the second day of sectionals was the furthest she’s been in her four-year varsity tennis career.
After hearing a story like this, it makes me think of reactions I’ve heard or saw or actions on the prep level athletic stage.
A 17-year-old quarterback gets verbally crucified because he got one yard on a QB sneak instead of the two he needed for a first down. A junior basketball player gets heckled because he shot and missed an open 3-pointer instead of passing down low for a contested layup.
Tennis players receive quizzical looks because their backhand isn’t working out or their kill shots were returned instead of adding points.
But do we ever think of the athlete who is playing sports to find their free zone or break from life?
Who are we to berate young athletes over a play most won’t remember two days later?
Those two minutes of angry comments could ruin the only reason the student-athlete plays sports — for fun.
Dose’s story is one of those occasional great reminders of why so many people love athletics in the first place.
Sports can be much more than just a game.
“For her to be able to deal with that, with what high school kids deal with — as a 17- year-old adolescent female — plus go out and do what she does on the tennis court is incredible,” St. Bede tennis coach Mike Lau said. “Tennis is an extremely difficult sport because you’re basically out there on your own. Everybody sees your mistakes and what you’re doing, and its been a really rough road for her.”
The road has been tough, but because of a positive attitude, the rocky, barren gravel drive has taken her to state.
Brandon LaChance is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6995, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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