Volleyball Inspires Accident Victim's Recovery

By BJ Evans | July 02, 2014, 4 p.m. (ET)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (July 2, 2014) – The biggest thing Kim Poen thought she had to worry about one day in early March was recovering from the herniated disc in her back. But a phone call quickly changed her priorities.

Maddie Poen
  Maddie Poen, left, waits for the serve as Kim Poen, far right,
  watches during Baton Rouge's final match on Wednesday.

The female caller said that Poen’s daughter, Maddie, who is playing libero for Baton Rouge (La.) 17s at the 2014 USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships, had been in a car accident at a corner not far from their house in Lafayette, La.

“I said, ‘Is she OK?’ She said, ‘I don’t know,’” Poen remembered. “I jumped up and shuffled out the door.”

On her way to school to take her ACTs, Maddie had pulled out into an intersection in her Fort Taurus station wagon and was broadsided on the driver’s side by a GMC 2500 lifted pickup truck going approximately 45 miles per hour.

“She just didn’t see him,” Poen said. “Her driver’s door was (smashed) in 18 inches and (pushed) down 12 inches.”

Maddie Poen’s memories of the accident are hazy.

“I just remember seeing a flash of white and then the truck hitting me,” Maddie Poen said. “Then I woke up and it was like it was a dream. It was so surreal. I remember having glass in my mouth and spitting it out. This guy was in my face, ‘Who are you? What’s your name?’ He said, ‘You’ve been in an accident,’ and I thought, ‘Thank you, Captain Obvious.’”

Tests showed that, miraculously, Maddie had no broken bones and no internal bleeding, though she was sore on her left side and had a partial collapse of her left lung. She stayed in the hospital overnight then was sent home.

But Kim Poen knew something was still wrong.

“She kept complaining of headaches,” said Kim, who took Maddie to get a second opinion. “It turned out she had a terrible concussion and (we discovered that) almost three weeks after the accident.”

Maddie Poen had to refrain from all physical activities for months while recovering.

“It hurt for a really long time,” Maddie Poen said. “I was frustrated because I was missing all these tournaments and practices. I just wanted to get back and play. But it would have been worse if I had hit my head, and I do that a lot anyway.”

Kim Poen had a strong feeling that Maddie would make it back in time for Nationals. The two women share a love for volleyball and Kim Poen’s team won USAV Club Junior Nationals 19 years ago.

“Being a former athlete, I was like, ‘She can do it. She’s tough,’” Kim said. “She came back and has done really well.”

Maddie credited her team and the sport with helping her recover and get back to the court.

“It was everything,” she said. “I’m so grateful that I got to come back after that because we really didn’t think I would be able to. To miss this would be terrible.”

Editor’s Note: Baton Rouge 17s won the Flight 1 bracket of the National division with a record of 6-4.