MULTI-TALANTED athlete Ashlee Pavletich is taking her recovery from a serious back injury one step at a time.
The 14-year-old, who plays netball, basketball, football and boxes, is slowly returning to the sports she loves three months after suffering a T5 pars stress fracture (spondylolysis) in her lower back.
The injury is common among young athletes and was first overlooked in Warrnambool before the Royal Children's hospital discovered it on Pavletich's X-ray and MRI results.
Pavletich first felt the injury, which can last up to 12 months after symptoms first start, following a Colac basketball tournament with the Warrnambool squad in February.
The Warrnambool College Sport Pathway Program student spent the next three months in debilitating pain, unable to train or go about everyday life, leaving the teenager feeling empty.
"It was quite confusing because it was painful and then when we found out I wasn't allowed to do anything for three months that was quite devastating," she said.
"I felt my heart sink when I heard the news because I couldn't do anything last year with COVID and then I wasn't allowed to do anything for three months - that was hard.
"I missed sports, I missed the team as it's really fun to be with a team and then the feeling of playing. I wasn't allowed to do anything as I was in pain. It was really boring.
"It (the injury) was a sharp pain and it was really uncomfortable is the best way I can describe it. I couldn't sit down and anything I did hurt.
"I had to sit in a certain way and move every couple of minutes and when I did move it hurt."
To take her mind away from missing sport Pavletich put all her efforts into getting herself get back on her feet.
"I did physio, my rehab and watched tv (to take her mind off it," she said.
"It was more core work because I had a weak core and then just going out to trainings and being involved."
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The Warrnambool player said she felt very secluded when she couldn't train or play with her friends.
Pavletich has already ticked a return to netball off her list and is in the process of making her basketball comeback before turning her attention to boxing and then football.
The goalie made her return in the Blues' 15 and under reserves side, which defeated Port Fairy 45-1 last Sunday.
Pavletich scored 12 goals and featured in her side's best in the big victory.
The teenager said it was exciting but nerve-wracking making her return but enjoyed her performance.
"I was quite proud of myself and a bit surprised," she said. "I was most nervous about reinjuring it but got through it."
The young Blue is playing with a brace and her movement is limited to protect her from reaggravating the injury but her confidence is slowly starting to build again.
"The slightest bump or falling over can cause a setback," she said.
"It worries me and I definitely make sure to back off a bit."
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