WASHINGTON, Ill. — It’s been quite a journey for Hannah Heinz.
“There’s nothing like a first game back from any injury, let alone a setback where I just started sprinting for the first time in a year,” Heinz said.
The former three-sport star at Washington has only been sprinting for a couple of weeks this summer. Last spring, she was diagnosed with a B Cell Lymphoma, a form of cancer.
After her chemo treatments last year, she could barely walk up her street without losing her breath. But she was determined to work her way back to her Eastern Illinois University soccer team,
She took the fall semester off from classes as she went through cancer treatments but went to as many soccer games and practices as she could in Charleston.
She returned to school as a full-time student in January and was just starting to get her playing strength back when an infection in her blood put her in the hospital for nearly a month in May.
“I had what I loved taken away from me,” Heinz said. “I just want to go run or kick the ball, do anything.”
Now, she is in clinical remission and her hair has grown back. She’s back in the swing of taking classes.
All that’s left is a return to the soccer team. EIU reports to fall preseason camp on Aug. 7 and Heinz fully intends to be there and be an active player on the roster.
“Having to rebuild my body, I have a better appreciate for it,” Heinz said.
“I say, ‘I can do two more sets, I can do this many more reps.’ I has made me a harder worker in those aspects.”
She’s been working with her longtime trainer Joe Terry this summer.
“Of all the athletes I’ve trained, when I think of who is the most intense competitors, she’s right on that list,” Terry said. “She approached battling cancer the same way.”
Heinz admits she may only be able to give her team 10-15 minutes of playing time when she first returns to campus. But she loves the idea of returning to the soccer field for the first time in 16 months.
“I may be tired but I say, ‘one more,'” Heinz said. “It’s helped me grow as a person and athlete.”