The Overcomer

July 24, 2014, 12:48 p.m. (ET)

An excerpt from the upcoming 2014 Summer edition of FHLife.

The Overcomer
by Kayleigh Ballantyne and Kait Mitchell 

Strength isn’t solely calculated by the steel dumbbells in a weight room or the slipping seconds on a stopwatch. Sometimes strength is measured by an insuppressible energy or a will from within. In Kayleigh Ballantyne’s case, when an intruder wanted to take her life, neither the heaviest of gym equipment nor the most insurmountable distance could measure up to her remarkable fighting spirit and will to see another day. 

July marks a full year since Kayleigh’s traumatizing assault. Pushing through substantial injuries to get back on the pitch, Kayleigh, a Bryant University Field Hockey alumni, shows that your weakest moments are nothing more than an opportunity to prove just how tough you really are. 

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Deep breath. 

There were two options: giving in or giving it my all.

'Alright, Kay, there’s no way in hell you’re dying,’ I said to myself as my attacker forced me to the ground and pulled out a knife. 

Growing up I was always a tough girl with a strong personality. I was raised with two older brothers in a small town in southern Maine. Playing games and sports together really helped to toughen me up. I took that competitive edge with me to Smithfield, Rhode Island where I played field hockey for Bryant University.

It’s amazing how one day, one moment, has the power to change everything. 

Last summer when I was living in South Boston with former teammates from Bryant, I was brutally attacked. Having worked a night shift at a restaurant, I was walking home from the T (metro station), when I was followed to my front door. Listening to music through my headphones didn’t allow me to hear the footsteps of an unknown man closing in quickly from behind. Before I knew it, I was pummeled to the ground with force. And then, I saw the knife. As my attacker was standing over me, I put my left arm across my chest to prevent being stabbed in my heart; which as a result, led to five stab wounds on that arm. He was able to stab me about a ½ inch from my heart. My attacker then tried striking at my left rib cage, leaving me with a collapsed left lung. He also managed to cut me across my neck and face twice; once on the left side of my lip and the other on my jaw bone. 

He may have had a weapon, but so did I. Confidence was key. I told myself right from the beginning that I would do everything in my power to not let this man kill me. I used my strong legs. I screamed. With every inch of fight, I ended up kicking the knife into his hand and wounding his palm. Injured, he fled from the scene leaving me with the same decision - giving in or giving it my all. I mustered my remaining strength to crawl into my apartment where I proceeded to go into emergency mode. I called out to my roommates – one to call 911 and the other to get towels and apply pressure wherever she saw blood until the paramedics arrived. 

It all happened in such a short period of time. I really didn’t get a good grasp of what happened until I was in the hospital and felt reassurance wash over me - I was still alive. 

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To read the rest of Kayleigh's story, keep an eye on your mailbox for the newest edition of FHLife or subscribe here.