The 5’6″ setter from Newark pushes her physical and mental limits on the volleyball court and encourages her teammates to do the same.
Her talents have transformed her into a force for the Lady Texans and landed her a prime position on a club team.
But just over a year ago, it was unclear if she would ever be able to play again.
Following a 2011 accident on an all-terrain vehicle, Goss had to summon the strength to fight through recovery and find her way back to the court.THE ACCIDENT
On the afternoon of June 5, 2011, Goss and her best friend, Kyla Radford, were hanging out in Aurora. It was a month before Goss was supposed to compete in USA Volleyball Nationals with her club team, SVA 16 Elite.
“We had just gotten done swimming, and we were in our bathing suits,” Goss said.
The duo decided to go for a ride down Aurora Trail on a Polaris Ranger, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
“We were going slow at first, and she [Radford] was like, ‘Put your seatbelt on. I’m going to put it in high,'” Goss said. “That’s what saved me.”
Neither Goss nor Radford remember what happened next.
“I guess we went into a little dip and the second time, she turned really fast and we flipped,” Goss said. “I think we flipped two or three times.”
The ATV landed on its side in a ditch along the road with Radford closest to the ground and Goss suspended by her seatbelt.
“My first thought was I didn’t know what happened,” Radford recalled. “I unbuckled my seatbelt and was just trying to get Kaylin out.”
Goss took one look at her leg, hanging at an unusual angle, and screamed for someone to free her.
“(Kyla) was like, ‘I can’t’ cause if she would’ve, I would’ve fell, but I just kept yelling, so she did,” said Goss. “She tried to catch me, but I hit the ground.”
Neighbors assisted at the scene while Radford called 911.
“I received a phone call … saying (Kaylin) and her friend flipped on their Polaris Ranger, and she was not moving, and I needed to get there now,” said Nichole Jones, Goss’ mother. “The only thing I could think was the worst, that she was dead. When my husband and I arrived, she was laying awake in the field with medics, and I was relieved.”
The medics straightened the leg and put it in traction.
“The first thing I said to my mom was, ‘I’m sorry,'” Goss said.
Her mother was in an ATV accident that split her pancreas when she was 12. She was lucky to have survived and never allowed her children to ride ATVs.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be on any kind of ATV at all; I haven’t been allowed my whole life,” Goss said. “That was the first time ever.”
Jones said her daughter apologized repeatedly.
“She also asked, “I’m not going to Nationals, am I?’ and ‘Are they going to have to cut my leg off?'” her mom recalled.
Goss was transported by ambulance to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth where X-rays showed she had broken her fibula and femur in her right leg but had no internal or brain injuries. She also had a third-degree burn on the inside of her right calf.
The next day, June 6, Goss had surgery to put a rod in her femur and was put in a boot for her fibula because of the burns.
Danya Horak, the Northwest volleyball head coach, went to see Goss.
“When I went to visit her in the hospital and I saw her in all these contraptions, I mean, she was all banged up, I just thought ‘Oh my gosh. I don’t know if this kid will ever play volleyball again.'” Horak said. “The injuries were just unbelievable.”
Goss stayed in the hospital for six days before she was released June 11.
Goss pushed herself so she could play again.
“I went to physical therapy twice a week and a burn doctor twice a week,” Goss said. “I slept a lot until I could start walking. After a week of physical therapy they started me walking with one crutch. Then they made me start walking without my boot around the house, and that hurt so much.”
She credits her mom with helping to make her stronger.
“She never let me give up,” Goss said. “She would make me do my own physical therapy. Even if I went to physical therapy that day, she would still make me do stretches when I got home.”
Her mom hopes that she was helping motivate her.
“I hoped I wasn’t pushing her too hard,” Jones said. “She would go online and look up femur breaks, and I would tell her, ‘You have a goal. You’re young. You’re strong. You’re going to come back.'”
And Goss pushed herself. She was hungry for a comeback.
She practiced setting the ball while lying in bed until she could begin lessons sitting in a chair. By early July, she began conditioning and by mid-July was released to run on the court.
“When I got released, and I had two shoes on my feet, it was terrible,” Goss said. “Lateral movement hurt, and my hip was really tight. Lateral movement was the worst.”
Goss continued to push through the pain and played on junior varsity that season but was moved to varsity for district.
“She was struggling, and she had a really bad limp,” teammate Brooke Berryhill said. “We had to do running drills, and you could tell she was hurting. She even started crying during one of the drills, but she never gave up.”
Horak said she wasn’t sure what the future held for Goss, but the young athlete continued to fight.
ON THE COURT
Today her limp is almost completely gone, and she sees plenty of court time. But Goss notices little things that have not returned to normal.
“My speed is not back to how it was before,” Goss said. “Other than that, it’s not that I can’t get to the ball, I just can’t get there to beat it.
“But it has made me a stronger person.”
She is thankful for how quickly she recovered.
“Just knowing that I pushed through that and how quick I did it, I don’t think I realized it at the time,” Goss said. “Volleyball was my motivation. I was doing everything I could to push through it and be back on the court as soon as possible.”
People around her noticed it, too.
“She has a passion for the game, and I truly believe that is why she recovered so quickly and fought so hard to come back,” said her mom.
Horak, who said she admires Goss’ work ethic and drive, also feels like the athlete is a role model for her teammates and younger players.
“Coach Horak told me the other day that she looked up to me for coming back from the accident so fast,” said Goss “There are people who come into the weight room every day who sit out because of a cold or something, and she sees me out there running the 300 shuttles with a broken leg.”
Goss doesn’t regret what happened.
“Now I look back and realize how much that taught me,” Goss said, “like how much people are there for you and how strong I really am.”