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Published: Friday, 9/18/2009

Ex-UT athlete fears she may not return to sport

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Former UT softball player Whitney Erickson, 21, was seriously injured last month while out with friends in Bowling Green. Her father is offering a $2,500 reward for information on the identities of the men involved. Former UT softball player Whitney Erickson, 21, was seriously injured last month while out with friends in Bowling Green. Her father is offering a $2,500 reward for information on the identities of the men involved.
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BOWLING GREEN - During her four years on the University of Toledo softball team, Whitney Erickson was no stranger to injuries.

She hurt her shoulder, fractured her skull, injured her knee, tore a ligament. Now, after being seriously injured while out with friends in Bowling Green last month, the 21-year-old wonders if she'll ever play softball or even walk right again.

Just weeks before she was to begin graduate school at the University of Minnesota, she and some friends were walking on East Wooster Street in front of Nate and Wally's Fish Bowl when Ms. Erickson was knocked to the ground. Two men began fighting as they left the bar and one fell into her. She struck her head on a metal pole, and her tibia was shattered.

"It's really hard. It's a day-by-day thing," her father, Todd Erickson of San Ramon, Calif., said. "The medications they had to put her on to deal with the surgery had all sorts of side effects. She's struggling through panic attacks, anxiety, and depression, and a lack of ability to focus. Every day is a struggle."

It disturbs him that the men who ran into his daughter left before anyone could find out who they were. "These guys who were fighting and knocked her over just took off," he said. "They didn't stick around to see how she was. They didn't take any responsibility."

Mr. Erickson is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identities of the men involved in the scuffle, which occurred about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 19. He planned to run a classified ad in the Bowling Green State University newspaper beginning today that asks anyone who can help identify the men to contact him at toer@sbcglobal.net.

According to a Bowling Green police report, officers arrived shortly after Ms. Erickson was injured. The report states she was lying on the ground, holding her knee, and crying.

Witnesses told officers two men were "screwing around" and one pushed the other into Ms. Erickson. The men were gone when police arrived.

Bowling Green Prosecutor Matt Reger said he was not familiar with the incident but that it would not be possible to prosecute without identified suspects.

Lindsay Vos, who was walking next to Ms. Erickson, said in a statement prepared for police that "a guy about 6 feet tall in a green shirt was arguing with a large guy at least 200 pound[s]. The guy in the blue was pushed very hard, falling right into Whitney. The guy landed on his back, and I believe fell onto Whitney. A few of the guys said, 'Sorry,' and then they all took off."

Ms. Erickson had surgery at University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio Hospital, the next morning rather than the checkup that had been scheduled with her doctor. She had hoped he would clear her to play softball at the University of Minnesota.

Mr. Erickson said his daughter recently returned to Minnesota to start graduate school but will be on crutches at least six more weeks. It's unlikely a promised athletic scholarship will come through if she's unable to play.

Her father said she had received two extra years of eligibility because previous injuries had kept her out of competition for much of her freshman and sophomore years. She graduated last spring from UT with a bachelor's degree in business administration.

"The odds of her coming back are astronomical. The odds of coming back after an injury like this are like 5 percent," he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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