I have known Ellie her ENTIRE life…I was there when she and her twin sister Hannah were born. They will be sophomores at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School this fall. Ellie is a very active young lady, whether it be on or off the court or diamond. Ellie has enjoyed choir and band, and especially marching band as a member of the Color Guard. But a lot changed on July 1st, 2017. We were all at an annual picnic near Cloverdale, IA when the ATV that Ellie was driving lost control and rolled. Ellie was drug under it for about 20 feet. The other riders were either thrown or trapped inside of the ATV. The young people involved knew exactly what to do--call for help. Our daughter reached my husband, and another young man called 911. My husband received the call and he and Ellie’s dad, Dan, came running across the park and yelled to me what had happened. We jumped in the suburban and what we saw next is an image that is forever in my mind. Ellie’s  left arm was mangled, but still somehow connected to her body and hand. The first thing she said to us upon arriving was “my arm, my arm!” By now, other adults had arrived. A few nurses were on site and we made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Ellie was such a trooper. We continued to talk to her and keep her calm. She mentioned over and over again that she was never going to pitch again and asked how the others were doing. She didn’t want her parents to see her injuries and asked that they stay back. The ambulance arrived and took her to the local hospital where they had already contacted the Avera hospital in Sioux Falls to dispatch the helicopter. As Ellie was being loaded into the back of the ambulance, she looked at me with her deep brown eyes and said "I am never gonna pitch again" and I said "Yes, yes you will!"

Upon arrival at the hospital in Sioux Falls, Ellie’s parents learned that her injuries were too severe for them to take on and that she would need to be transferred to the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, MN. Ellie’s mom, Jaime, would accompany her on the flight while Dan would go home and get necessities and then travel by car there. Once Ellie arrived in the hospital, they took her back to surgery. They were able to save her arm and when she awoke she was able to move her thumbs and fingers on her left arm, all but her pinky. This was truly encouraging, and the doctors had no explanation for it except for it was an act of God. Over the course of the next few days she had a couple other surgeries and clean out procedures because of the extent of the gravel in her arm. She was able to return home after only being there for about 10 days.

After about two weeks of being home and heading back in the coming days to the doctor, she noticed a smell. They called and spoke with Mayo and headed back for a regular follow up. The news we were all not wanting...infection was taking over and if they did not amputate, she could die. That was a huge blow to us all except one person, Ellie. She soaked the news in and said God has a plan. And this was the plan, we have to remove it.

Through this an entire process, never ever have I seen someone with so much courage and strength. I personally saw no tears from this young lady. She is one tough girl. Since the amputation, this young lady has returned to almost all functions of her life. She is driving a car, she attended school and hangs with friends. She threw the shot put this spring for the track and field team. Her dream was to pitch again, and with the help in the off season of Luke Schouten, the varsity coach, she is doing just that. She is working on her batting skills as well. She works her butt off to get what she wants and nothing is stopping her. She is stronger than some adults that I know. This fall, she will be a Marching General in the Color Guard and will be out on the volleyball court with the help of a prosthesis. She is someone we can all look to for strength. She has a way of making your heart warm just from her smile and determination. Ellie is very humble…doesn’t want a lot of attention and wants to be very independent. These are traits I want my own daughter to learn and happy to say they are friends and Ellie is someone Makya looks up too! I am so proud to know her and cannot wait to see where the future takes her.

-submitted by Tanya Dykstra

The IGHSAU is committed to sharing the stories of high school female athletes. We believe a strong narrative can empower and inspire other females to try more, go the distance, and persevere in the face of hardship. That's why we want you -- parent, friend, athlete, coach -- to share the story of an Iowa Girl that inspires you. What makes their story special? What have they overcome or accomplished? Is there something beyond the sport that makes their story especially unique? We want to know.

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