Bountiful • It was a warm July evening, and Kauri Tye woke up on a dirt road. Before she again lost consciousness, she knew her life had changed.
Fifteen months later, Tye, a middle blocker for the Viewmont volleyball team, stands in the middle of the Vikings' court, which has served as a place of refuge over the last several months. She speaks of how far she's come and how she's picked up the pieces after a car accident left her body broken and her best friend, Gabriel Hansen, dead.
"It's definitely, faith-wise, made me a lot stronger," Tye said as tears escaped down her cheeks. "It's made me appreciate my life more and especially my family. I think it's taught me that you never expect anything to happen in your life, so I appreciate it more."
It hasn't been just one person or one thing that's helped Tye work her way through the tragedy. But undeniably, perhaps in a less obvious way than how her faith and the love and presence of family and friends have healed her, volleyball has served as a shelter from the pain and grief.
After rehabbing from extensive injuries, including a broken wrist, fractured back and pancreatitis, which kept her on a feeding tube for two months, Tye returned to volleyball. It's been a sanctuary, a slice of normal life in a year that at times has seemed anything but.
"It's something I've always loved doing, so to come back and not have to worry about the stress and worries of what I've gone through," Tye said. "Just to let it out and work my hardest at practice has been a really good outlet for me."
But the physical act of playing volleyball hasn't been the only healer that's come from donning the Vikings' red and white. Tye was heading into her sophomore year at the time of the accident and didn't know many of her future teammates or coaches, but the bonds she's formed with them over the last 15 months have strengthened her.
"My teammates have been a big part of my healing process," Tye said. "A lot of them, I've had good talks with them, and they kind of, in my down moments, make me realize there's so much more to life than having to worry about the sad thing that happened.
"I love my teammates. I didn't know them a lot last year, but getting to know them this year and how much they've helped me, emotionally and physically, they just are awesome. They are always building me up."
Tye is quick to thank to her teammates. She knows she wouldn't be where she is today without their compassion. But Viewmont coach Melissa Brewer said Tye isn't able to see the full picture of the relationships with her teammates.
"That's kind of how Kauri is she says her teammates are the ones who lift her up, but really I think it's the opposite," Brewer said. "She's such a strength to this team."