Senior soccer athlete overcomes medical setback for athletic success

January 23, 2018

Bryanna Winner

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    Players have to overcome many obstacles to score the winning goal in soccer, but senior forward Chanisse Hendrix defied the odds outside of the field to be successful in her passion.

    Originally from Roseville, California, Hendrix came to UCCS for her final year of eligibility on the women’s soccer team and to finish classes after graduating from Colorado College in 2016.  

   As an athlete at Colorado College, where women’s soccer plays in NCAA Division I, Hendrix had tough competition. As a freshman, she was the only first-year athlete to play in every game, according to the Colorado College Athletics website.

    During her freshman year, she scored four goals, five assists, one game-winning goal and two game-winning assists. In 2014, she recorded two goals, four assists and one game-winning goal.

    This record came to a stop in 2015, however, when Hendrix was redshirted for a frightening reason.

    Hendrix began to have physical issues, pain and weakness. On a family vacation in the mountains, she started to notice full-body twitches, prompting her to go to the Emergency Room.

   It was that night in the ER where doctors discovered a cavernous venous malformation, a cluster of abnormal veins on her brain that were affecting her motor functions. When the venous pressure increases, the vessels bleed out.

     “I’m in the hospital and they’re like, ‘well because if it gets worse and it keeps bleeding, you’ll have another seizure,’” said Hendrix.

    Doctors told Hendrix she could be paralyzed on the left side of her body. She was operated on that night.

   “My neurosurgeon understood that soccer was my career. It wasn’t a recreational thing; this was paying for my education,” said Hendrix.

    “After the surgery, my neurosurgeons told me that I couldn’t play for eight months to a year so I could recover.”

   Hendrix did not want to sit out of season for a long time since it would be more difficult to start playing again. Her surgeon prohibited contact sports since those activities could impact her healing process.

   “I resort to stuff like heavy lifting and other things like cardio that wasn’t going to be super strenuous,” she said.

   “Having to redshirt all of my junior season was devastating.”

    After coming back for the 2016 season, Hendrix played in 19 games, eight as a starter and had one goal, two assists, one game-winning goal and two game-winning assists. At Colorado College, she recorded seven goals, eleven assists, three game winning goals, and four game winning assists.

    As a member of the Mountain Lions, she played in 17 games, 14 as a starter and recorded six goals, two assists, and one game-winning goal.

    Hendrix competed in the NCAA Division II Final Four with the women’s soccer team in November. The women’s soccer team was the first team at UCCS to compete at this level in the Final Four.

     “I’m happy with the fact that we made it but unsatisfied that we didn’t make it all the way because I know we could have. The experience, though, was incredible,” she said.

     “I’m lucky for the chance to even be playing again. Being able to walk, stand, run and kick a ball like I was willing to put in the work so that when I did get back, I was in shape. Just being able to step out and play again was an incredible feeling.”

    For more on Chanisse Hendrix and the women’s soccer team, go to