Born with macrobiotic bone disease, Sadie Welch has endured no less than 18 broken bones in the past decade.
But the serious injury she suffered a year ago had nothing to do with that disorder.
Welch, who pole vaults for the Whiteland Community High School girls track and field team, was rehearsing a tumbling routine for cheerleading in April 2015 when she badly injured her left knee.
“It was my first time back after cheer nationals. I was excited doing the same thing I’ve always done, and I just landed and heard a big snap,” Welch said. “In my left knee I tore my ACL completely in half.
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“I tore my meniscus and my MCL.”
Suspecting another bone break — Welch previously had broken each wrist, elbow and ankle twice due to macrobiotic bone disease, in which her growth plates were too weak for her skeleton frame — she figured her recovery would take about four weeks.
Doctors informed her it would be more like nine months to a year.
Welch, who prefers to remain busy, viewed the rehabilitation process as a challenge.
And if there’s one thing Sadie Welch likes, it’s a challenge.
Not only does she participate in track and cheerleading, Welch is accomplished at racing four-wheelers at venues around the state. She’s a member of the National Honor Society (3.8 grade-point average) and in October will compete in the Miss Indiana Teen USA Pageant in Carmel.
“The only thing that I live for is to push my kids to be the best they can be, but I don’t need to push Sadie. She has to keep going. She has to go 100 percent,” said Welch’s mother, Natalie.
Welch sustained her injury on April 13, 2015. She underwent surgery a month later and immediately began attacking her rehab with the same enthusiasm she does everything else.
A week in a wheelchair — “That just about killed me,” she said — eventually gave way to a month on crutches.
From that point, it was a matter of learning to walk and eventually run again.
“When I went to physical therapy, I was told a lot of people come in and say they’re going to be back. Then once the work and the pain starts coming to them they make up every little excuse,” Welch said.
“My main priority was not to make an excuse.”
Physical therapy sessions were three times weekly at Community Hospital South. Welch, who said she has a high tolerance for pain, worked her way back in time to be cheering for the Whiteland football team in its Week 1 game against South Dearborn.
“The doctor had told Sadie she would be out nine months to a year, and she looked at him and said, ‘I’m going to beat that,'” Natalie said.
“Three months later she was on the sideline cheering.”
On Thursday, Welch tied her personal best in the pole vault with a best of 7 feet, 6 inches at the Mid-State Conference junior varsity meet at Franklin Community High School. Two days later she was in the tiny southern Indiana town of Canaan (12 miles northeast of Madison) racing her Honda 450 four-wheeler at an IXCR event.
From cheering to pole vaulting to pageants to being caked in mud — and loving every moment of all four — Welch takes great pride in not being one-dimensional.
Welch pole vaulted for the Warriors’ varsity squad as a ninth-grader and this season has competed in some meets for Whiteland’s junior varsity as she worked back to form.
“Sadie is a very unique student-athlete. She truly is a person that seems to be happier the busier she is and enjoys the challenges of juggling several different activities at the same time,” Whiteland girls track coach Brandon Bangel said.
“Sadie almost always has a smile on her face and is enjoyable to be around. Her outgoing personality is infectious among her teammates, and she is a lot of fun to coach every day.”
THE WELCH FILE
Name: Sadie Welch
Family: Parents, Charles and Natalie; brother, Charlie, 18
Favorite TV show: “Dance Moms”
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: “Finding Nemo”
Favorite athlete: Traci Ceco
Favorite team: Indiana University men’s basketball