Video Spotlight - Marc Howatson

LANGLEY, British Columbia - For a moment, Marc Howatson’s teammates thought his volleyball career may be over.

The Spartans starting leftside lay on the court grimacing in pain as his left foot dangled from his left leg seemingly incognizant that the two appendages had any direct correlation.

The men’s volleyball team was in Russia on a missions and training trip and were playing a club team in the city of Anapa when Howatson came off a block, landed on a teammates foot and dislocated, as was later discovered, his subtalar joint in his foot.

It was a joint few Canadian doctors had ever seen dislocate, let alone they way he did it: without breaking any bones or tearing any muscles.

“The doctor said it’s possible but extremely improbable that you would dislocate this bone and not fracture or tear anything,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “The doctors just marveled that nothing broke or tore and the fact that he has a full range of motion and that he’s going to play this season, let alone ever, is still a bit of a medical miracle.

“You talk to doctors and physiotherapists and they’ve heard of it happening but no one’s ever seen it. It’s kind of like a unicorn. So, Marc’s our little unicorn.”

The incident happened on Sept. 4, 2010.

Four months and 17 days later, Howatson is practicing at full speed and preparing to be a part of the Spartans contingent that will play host to Calgary this weekend.

“It’s feeling good and it’s feeling a whole lot better every day,” Howatson said. “I may not be 100 per cent but I’ll be ready to help the team win in whatever way possible.

“At this point I know where I’m at physically, it’s just making sure I’m back mentally and I’m not missing assignments. But I have a lot of experience so hopefully that makes up for missing so much time.”

But while the Spartans have indeed missed Howatson’s veteran presence on the floor, and specifically his keen passing ability, the injury to the 6-foot-7, 175-pound Victoria, B.C. product was something of a masked blessing.

In an uncontrived moment of bonding, the team gathered around the fallen Howatson and immediately started praying. In a time of potential fear and panic, the team turned to God.

“It was a really emotional experience for the guys and they responded how you’d want to see,” Josephson said. “They banded together. They bonded. They went first to God and second to each other.

“Overall it was one of those invaluable moments that brought the team together in a way we probably couldn’t have without it. Don’t be led to believe that that had to happen for the team to bond but our team bonded well because of what happened.”

“The actual experience was a spiritual experience for our team,” said Howatson. “Them seeing me in such pain and having those guys around me was a good experience, if you want to call it that. We really grew through the experience.

In a year when everything – hosting nationals, players in their prime and incredible depth on the bench – seemed set up to produce a season to remember, the now closer than ever Spartans got thrown a left-footed curveball.

But instead of whiffing, it’s seems this incident was exactly what they needed. And now, it’s becoming obvious this season is going to mean a whole lot more than anyone could have ever expected.


Last Updated: 2011-01-21
Author: Mark Janzen