Severe knee injury doesn't stop two-sport MHS grad Elle Renault
Madras High School 2015 graduate Elle Renault has taken her athletics to the next level at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
Renault rallied off 2,500 assists during her four years as a volleyball player at Madras High. She was a three-time all-conference honoree and set several single-game and season records as a White Buffalo.
As a track athlete at MHS, she was a two-time state competitor in the javelin and is now a two-sport athlete in college, participating in both track and volleyball.
Renault had to overcome major obstacles just to be able to play sports again after a devastating knee injury.
As a freshman at the university, she played volleyball for the Bulldogs and played in 16 matches, receiving great experience at the college level for a young athlete. After volleyball, Renault went straight into training for the javelin.
Everything was going great, better than expected, until a routine throw went horribly wrong. Renault tore her ACL, MCL, meniscus and dislocated her knee cap. The severe injury kept her out of the rest of her freshman track season and her sophomore volleyball season.
"It was my first competition throw," Renault said. "I had to wait about a month before surgery, just because the swelling needed to go down and all while having finals. It was an 11-month recovery process for me, until I was cleared for everything again, but it was more of an 18-month mental recovery, as far as being comfortable throwing, going all out."
"I would honestly say it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do physically and mentally." she said. "You want so badly to be exactly where you left off before the injury, but that's not how things are. Since I couldn't do any lower body workouts, I went to the gym every day to do upper body workouts. I looked like an upside down Dorito for those 18 months."
"It was definitely difficult and going back my sophomore year, I was not producing like I should have," said Renault. "I was ranked No. 1 in the conference (before the accident) and expected myself to be there again, but I finished seventh in the conference."
"It was absolutely defeating, to go through all that work just to be not even close to where I was," she said. "Everything really turned around junior year."
Her junior year she came back stronger and better than ever. Finally in a good place mentally, Renault had personal best throws in every single meet she had.
As the season progressed, the conference championships came along and Renault was set on proving she was the No. 1 javelin thrower. She took first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference with a throw of 126 feet, 9 inches.
Renault, who was not satisfied with just one conference gold medal, defended her javelin title again her senior year (129-01).
She didn't just overcome a horrible injury, but really had to figure out how to be a two-sport athlete, managing classes and proper recovery.
"When it comes to being a two-sport athlete, usually athletes have an offseason, but I do not," Renault said. "It gets very busy and it turned into deciding three things in college. You either get good grades, social life, or a sport. So, I definitely chose good grades and sports. I did not have much of a social life."
"I was always on the run, communicating with my professors about where I would be, how to turn in assignments, being in the library until 1 a.m. working," she said. "It has just been a lot of hard work and learning time-management skills. I definitely had trouble with that my freshman year. College was a step up in school and athletics, having five hours of weight training and volleyball, with everything else like classes and studying. Freshman year was a wake-up call, but I figured it out."
After redshirting her sophomore year (2016), due to her knee injury, Renault stepped back on the volleyball court to help the team finish with a 17-15 record. Last season, the Bulldogs had a 21-11 record with Renault having significant playing time.
Renault, who not only played all 32 matches and helped her team win several more games than the previous year, was also named academic All-Great Lakes Valley Conference.
"Our volleyball team was pretty rocky my freshman year," Renault said. "We all really wanted it, but it just wasn't producing how we wanted. My sophomore year, we started 2-11, but we decided to say screw it and just had fun."
"That really started the trend of just going in and having fun, while being who we are, having each others' backs," she said. "Hopefully, that will translate into next year and even after I am gone."
Because Renault redshirted her sophomore year, she will finish her last year of volleyball next season. She is finishing school with a major in biology, and a minor in art. She is hoping to go into scientific illustration.
"Even with the injury and things being very time-consuming, they definitely make you a stronger person," Renault said. "I am very happy that I went through them just because of the fact that it made me better. I put up with a lot more now than I could. People here at Truman (State) are really amazing."
"Right now, nothing is official — I am waiting on a couple offers — but I have the opportunity to get my master's in London, while playing volleyball and throwing the javelin," she said. "I am hoping for that, but if that doesn't work out, I want to get into scientific illustration. I have been talking to a few companies, so those are the steps I am mainly thinking about."
"I would love to say that my family is a huge support and they are awesome," she added. "I could not have done anything without them."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.