Extra Effort: Injury Opens Opportunities for Normal West’s Arya Gandhi

Local Sports

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — A torn ACL can ruin an athlete’s year.

But in the case of Normal West swimmer Arya Gandhi, it presented opportunities. The junior competed with the Wildcats swim team to helped her recovery from surgery.

“Every day when I came back (to practice), I was doing something I couldn’t do the day before. It was super encouraging in the water,” Gandhi said.

She’ll swim for the Wildcats in Saturday’s season-ending sectional at Normal Community.

Gandhi had knee surgery in January and it would have knocked her out of the spring soccer season that was canceled by COVID-19. It also put the brakes on her idea of playing tennis for her school this fall.

But it hasn’t stopped her from violin competitions. She’s been playing the violin since third grade and is a member of Normal West’s student orchestra.

The honor roll student also gives weekly tennis lessons to a player with special needs. And her knee injury has helped her determine what she wants to study in college.

“I want to go into orthopedic surgery,” Gandhi said. “It inspired me after my knee surgery. It’s something I can relate to.”

While surgery on her knee has presented challenges, Gandhi says it’s opened the door to opportunities for her to better serve her community. This year, she began serving at the Midwest Food Bank.

“I’ve gotten so many new experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten because my life was so busy. (The injury) gave me a breather. I had to stop and think about helping others and not just worry about myself,” Gandhi said. “I’m fortunate enough and I want to give back to people who aren’t as fortunate.”

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