Playing a netball final for her beloved South Colac on the weekend had significant meaning for Katie McDougall after she suffered horrific injuries when a car hit her last year.
The popular Roo was aware she might never play sport again following the incident in March 2018, which sent a shock through the community, including her husband Heath and two young sons Caleb, 5, and Mason, 2.
Katie was on a morning jog in Colac with her dog Zac when a moving vehicle struck her.
Border collie Zac survived and ran back to the family home.
But Katie was airlifted in a serious condition to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where she spent five nights recovering from head injuries, a broken shoulder, broken jaw, multiple lacerations and vertigo.
Katie still undergoes treatment for her setbacks, including physio appointments and recent surgeries to her jaw, but she made a courageous return to netball for South’s B Grade team this year.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing due to concerns about post-concussion syndrome, which put her sporting comeback in jeopardy.
Katie said she first realised she had the symptoms of the condition when reading an article about now retired Western Bulldogs premiership hero Liam Picken, who was forced out of the game prematurely this year after concussions cruelled his AFL career.
Katie made regular visits to specialists and had to undergo rigorous testing to get the all-clear to play netball competitively again.
“The biggest thing was my post-concussion syndrome that I couldn’t get cleared from until January,” she said.
“I really didn’t know much about it and didn’t know what was wrong with me.
“I wasn’t allowed to play until I got the all-clear from that and I was lucky that I recovered from it because I think there’s a lot of people who don’t.
“I went to concussion clinic at the Epworth and had to do ball drills and run on treadmills, they put me through the paces to make sure my head was
okay to play netball.”
Katie played in the season opener this year and the accomplished defender admits she took time to find her feet again in the sport that has consumed her life at South Colac for the past decade and at Irrewarra-Beeac during the Bombers’ dominant era in the 2000s.
“I think it was our first game and (South Colac B Grade coach) Rach Baker threw a ball and hit me in the face in the warm-up,” she said.
“I think that small hit early helped me steady my first game nerves, but it took me half a season to really get back into it.
“It’s still a bit of a risk, but one I’m willing to take, because I didn’t want to stop doing everything for the rest of my life and there are a lot of people way more worse off than me.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.