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Baker, Payne receive Athletico Comeback Athlete Award

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – Waldorf University’s Demetrius Baker and Genie Payne were honored with the Athletico Comeback Athlete Award during the annual Student-Athlete Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday at Hanson Fieldhouse.

In its inaugural year, the award was presented by Athletico Physical Therapy Facility Manager Michelle Bamrick, Waldorf head athletic trainer Heidi Laube and members of the athletic training staff.

The award is presented to a male and female student-athlete who have faced medical adversity and successfully returned to their respective team. To be nominated, a student-athlete had to be an active member of a team during the 2014-15 academic year, be in good academic standing, have a significant and impressive comeback from a serious injury or illness, remain compliant and dedicated to treatment in the physical therapy clinic and athletic training room while successfully returning to competition and demonstrating good sportsmanship on and off the field.

Baker, a member of the men’s track and field team, started his career at Waldorf with an unknown preexisting knee injury that was later diagnosed as a complete ACL rupture. He did not let the injury slow him down. In fact, it gave him motivation. Baker worked out both on and off the track while preparing his knee for surgery. Following surgery, he was driven and dedicated to his return as he worked independently and remained committed to visits to the athletic training room and physical therapy clinic. Baker was constantly looking for ways to stay involved in the weight room and practices, cheering on the team and being a good teammate when that is all he could do. Today, he continues to utilize the athletic training room as a means of injury prevention. Upon Baker’s return to the track, the Burlington native owns an indoor school record in the weight throw, along with outdoor school records in the shot put, discus and hammer throw.

Payne, a senior volleyball player from New Hampton, bounced back from a two-year back injury. She was barely able to walk the spring of her junior year and missed all of spring training. Throughout all of the discomfort, Payne was strived to return to the volleyball court as she battled intense pain on a daily basis. She entered the 2015 fall season still not cleared for athletics, along with a surgeon’s recommendation of back surgery and bed rest. Payne was committed to daily therapy in the training room, physical therapy clinic and independent therapy. She always displayed a positive attitude and was a huge support as well as a leader to the team. Despite Payne’s grim prognosis, she was able to get a physician’s clearance and returned to the court pain-free in October for Senior Night and delivered a match-clinching kill that caused the crowd to erupt at Hanson Fieldhouse and lifted the Warriors to a victory over William Penn University.