Amber Donovan takes batting practice in Tampa during her final season with the University of South Florida.

Amber Donovan’s improbable return from injury

South Florida star all the way back from torn labrum

TAMPA, Fla. –  Amber Donovan channeled two years of frustration into her swing and crushed a home run in her first at bat of the year.

She was back.

“When she hit the home run, it was probably the fastest ball I’ve ever seen get out of this field,” said Tyler Baldwin, one of Donovan’s trainers.

Two years ago the University of South Florida softball player was told she might have to give up a dream she had been working towards since she was five.

“The doctor came out and told me that it was the worst tear he’s ever seen before, and he does surgeries like that all the time,” Donovan said. “He didn’t know if I’d be able to play again.”

Donovan suffered a severely torn labrum in her hip shortly after her decision to move to the competitive USF Bulls from her home in Guilford, Conn.

University of South Florida's Amber Donovan is looking to end her college softball career on a high note.
University of South Florida’s Amber Donovan is looking to end her college softball career on a high note. (Braydon Holmyard)

The injury left her on bed rest for three weeks and on crutches for one month. But the harm that it did to her was not only physical.

“It was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to go through,” Donovan said. “I had worked so hard to be on a D-1 team and get recruited. It was very frustrating, but at the same time I was really determined to come back, get healthy and be able to play again.”

Over the course of a year, Donovan was undergoing physical therapy several times a week. She balanced her recovery with her high academic status as a Health Science major.

“A great person.” Those were the first words USF head coach Ken Eriksen said after hearing Amber’s name.

“She’s got patience, she’s got perseverance, and if you have those two things, especially from the injury that she had, it tells you a lot about her love for the game and the want to participate and be productive,” Eriksen said.

This season will be her last before she moves on to her next goal of becoming a physical therapist, a job she has come to appreciate over the last two years.

And Donovan will never forget the colossal home run that turned the dream of a five-year-old girl into a reality.