Kickin’ It By Land And By Sea

Grace Humbert Has Thrived In The Pool And On The Soccer Field


Emma Goldsmith

Grace Humbert swimming freestyle.

Audrey Hemingway, Rambler Sports Editor

Grace Humbert was destined to be a good athlete. Her parents were competing in olympic level athletics before she was even born. The Humbert family’s athletic prowess is comparable to that of Navy Seals, — they compete by land, snow and sea.
Humbert, a Highland sophomore soccer player and swimmer, was varsity bound this fall soccer season, with many thinking she would help the soccer team push for a playoff victory. But everything changed during warm ups on a hot Tuesday afternoon when Humbert’s foot became caught in a hole, leaving her with a dislocated kneecap.
Humbert remained laying on the field after her fall in obvious pain. Though she was in shock, her coach did not think there was significant damage. It wasn’t until 10 minutes later, when Highland trainer Mitch Mckay made an appearance on the field and realized how serious the injury was. Her knee cap was dislocated and resting about four inches from where it was supposed to be.
“I was super confused because I was just warming up and I saw Grace laying on the field. I felt really bad she injured herself, especially in warm ups,” Highland soccer player Anna Smith said. “Then when I found out she dislocated her knee cap, I was really sad for her because it was such an unfortunate way to have such a bad injury.”
After getting a call about the injury from Humbert’s mom, Laurie, her dad Chris was very surprised.
“I dislocated both of my kneecaps, my left one when I was 12, and my right one when I was an adult. I never thought my daughters would inherit my loose kneecaps, and then bang! Grace got injured,” Chris Humbert said.
Her sister Geneva has never dislocated a knee, but she has had what is called a kneecap subluxation, which is a temporary, partial dislocation. The kneecap shifts out to the side and comes right back. She’s had this happen when competing in ski races.
With the knowledge from his past injuries, Chris was able to help with Humbert’s recovery.
“I knew that she would be okay, because I knew how quickly I was able to bounce back after my second dislocation. I also knew that Grace, being a swimmer, would really help her, because swimming is such a great rehab activity,” Chris Humbert said.
The Humbert family has always been athletic. Humbert’s mom Laurie competed in the Norway olympics in the biathlon in 1994 and her dad Chris made it to the olympic trials in 2000, but chose not to go. With the experience their family had in sports, Humbert’s recovery was made easier than others.
With several weeks of recovery still ahead, Humbert began increasing her knee’s level of activity in physical therapy.
“PT was simple stuff that I never realized was so hard. They had me do quad firing, which helped my quadricep muscle ‘wake up’ because when I dislocated my kneecap, it completely shut down,” Humbert said. “I also went to Mitch to do E-stim to ‘wake up’ the muscle.”
Though her injury would sideline her for the soccer season, it helped her swimming because she was able to get into the pool a month earlier than usual. During the first few weeks of recovery, Humbert had to swim with no kicking, which made her upper body stronger. And because she couldn’t do breaststroke, her best stroke, she has been forced to work on backstroke, butterfly and freestyle. She calls it a “blessing in disguise.”
Despite her inability to do every stroke she used to be able to perform, this past swim season has turned out better than her freshman year. Going to every practice no matter if it was in the morning, afternoon or on the weekend with her club has also benefited her. She didn’t just go to practice and rush through it, she made sure she enjoyed it. This was made visible to the fans watching above and in her teammates’ eyes.
“She wants to see her teammates succeed and wants them to know that they can accomplish their goals. She’s always cheering for you and giving you a celebratory or sympathetic hug after a game or meet or whatever it is,” captain Annie Murdock said.
She is the definition of a good teammate. She is humble, encouraging, uplifting, positive and works hard, especially during practice.
“Grace is great at holding her teammates and herself accountable during practice. She pushes everyone to their best,” swim captain Nick Pembroke said.
Competing in regionals helped her qualify for the state competition. She got fifth overall in the 100 back, which moved her to 17th in the state, and sixth overall in the 500 free, which moved her to 14th place in the state.
“I didn’t think I could ever drop as much time as I did. When I looked up at the board for
some of my races and saw that I got the time standard I was so excited,” Humbert said.
She competed in state on February 14th and 15th in two individual races and two relay races. She was the only girl on the team to make it to finals in the individual races. She placed 11th in the 500 free and 14th in the 100 back. The boys team also performed at or above expectations. They set three school records at state.
Chris Humbert has always wanted his daughters to be competitive and athletic and hoped their being an athlete would help them be confident, strong young people. Indicative of her name Grace, she has handled this life trial with that exact attribute.