NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the excitement and intensity of Vanderbilt’s road to the 2023 NCAA Championship, the focus, naturally, was on those bowlers that were in the midst of the fray. Very few among us were thinking about the two talented Commodores that had been relegated to the sidelines with various physical ailments. Their absence from the rotation was felt but fortunately, Vanderbilt’s roster depth prevailed.
Those two Dores, Kailee Channell and Paige Peters, are back, rarin’ to go as their junior year beckons. While the issues that sidelined them differ to a degree, their paths back and their attitudes are remarkably similar.
Channell became the program’s first Tennessean when she chose Vanderbilt two years ago. (Her older sister, Ashley, was a mainstay at Louisiana Tech). Kailee shined when her opportunities presented themselves during her first season. Bigger things were anticipated entering her sophomore year when she began experiencing hip pain, a not-so-uncommon malady for serious bowlers. Weighing her options, Channell chose surgery.
“I had a torn hip labrum,” she said in her gentle, southern tone. “They went in, pulled the hip joint out of place to repair the tear and put me back together.”
Sounds like fun. The surgery put her on crutches for nearly a month and then the long road of rehabilitation began in earnest.
“I did rehab until August (2023) when I came back to campus,” she explained. “When we first started, we were trying to keep my leg moving. I couldn’t walk. And since I was hurt for so long, I had to learn how to walk again. I wasn’t distributing my weight properly and I had to learn how to do that again. I was mainly focused on rebuilding the muscles.”
Channell came back carefully, starting in May by throwing balls with no steps and one step; she didn’t get into full approaches until the end of June or early July. She now estimates she is about 75% back to her normal game.
“Somedays everything is working good and other days I can definitely tell I’ve taken time off so I’m relearning how to get everything working together again,” she said.
Missing the first-hand intensity of the memorable season was a tough one for Channell to take.
“It was hard,” she remembered. “In the fall I didn’t get to travel, and it was different having to watch us compete on a computer screen. In the spring, it was hard because I wanted to be able to bowl and participate. It became more trying…