FHC welcomes new volleyball coach Dayle Wood


Spectrum Health Beat

Wood was treated by Andre Gauri, MD, a cardiologist and electrophysiologist who serves as section chief of electrophysiology at Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center. “None of the tests were abnormal,” Dr. Gauri said. “Her genetic testing came back normal, everything came back normal.” (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)

New volleyball coach Dayle Wood will never forget September 9, 2013.

“It happened at practice my freshman year of college,” she recalled, as her life would forever be changed. 

“I was at practice and I was just playing, I had substituted out and I just collapsed. I fell and hit my head and it caused me to seize.”

Within seconds, the athletic trainer came with AED in hand. Upon his arrival, Dayle’s teammates were surrounding her, hoping and praying for the best.

“I was dead for three minutes.”

Dayle was then rushed to the Spectrum hospital downtown where she was in a coma for three days. They then brought her out of her coma. 

She couldn’t just get up and walk out of the hospital. The next step was having an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. ICD put in. An ICD helps to pace the heart as well as performing cardioversion and defibrillation. Wood was now into recovery mode, the next step was spending an odious six weeks not doing any physical activity.

“I wasn’t even able to move my left arm higher than six inches off of my chest,” Wood recollected.

With a seemingly inexorable determination to regain her strength, Wood gradually worked hard to recover. The first task: walking.

“Walking is all that my trainers would let me do, so I would walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day. I worked my way up.”

Wood was determined. She set goals for herself, reached them, and exceeded them.

“I remember this one time, I told myself that I was going to do push-ups and I did push-ups. I ended up doing one and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is so great’ and I just kept going.”

Wood would then run to her teammates and tell them about her accomplishment from each day. To them, it would seem like a small, insignificant task, but to her, it was the beginning of her volleyball career again.

If her trainer hadn’t been there when he was, things could have gone very badly, but luckily he was there and knew exactly what to do. Athletic trainers don’t just help out after someone gets a sprained ankle or a dislocated shoulder; they do so much more than that.

“I think people just think that we’re here to tape ankles and apply bandages and do the small stuff,” FHC athletic trainer Dani Brodberg said. “But, in reality, that is just the day-to-day stuff that we do on top of the crazy things that could happen like a tibia fracture or somebody drops down in the middle of a field; their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. We’re there for all of that stuff, it is just that people don’t always see it.”

It was because of the quick and efficient work of an athletic trainer that Wood is able to continue living her life. One of her main goals in this life is to positively impact others as the trainer and doctors did for her.

Part of this goal has led Dayle to become the head varsity volleyball coach for FHC. She has high hopes for the rest of the volleyball season and has started instilling some of the lessons that she has learned into her players.

“Her story is crazy,” sophomore varsity volleyball co-captain Julia Bouma said. “I really like it, it shows how you should find positive things in life instead of looking at everything negatively because you never know what could happen.”

Not only has she impacted her players’ lives by sharing her perspective on life with them, but she has done this for some of the adults at FHC as well.

“It seems that Dayle has a perspective that very few people have,” FHC athletic director Clark Udell said. “She truly understands the big picture in life, she seems to really have a spirit of thankfulness. [Her story] is a great example of making the most of what you’re given.”

Dayle is a phenomenal example of someone who takes what they’re given and works with it; she adapted and made the most of it. Now, she has learned one of the most important lessons in her life, which can be summed up with one simple phrase. 

“God is awesome.”