Kiel’s Kenzie Koppenhaver returns to field after crash, coma

Kiel's Koppenhaver returns to field to field after crash, coma
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 6:33 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The ability to communicate is basic, it’s fundamental. It’s something Kenzie Koppenhaver has lost once before.

“After I woke up I couldn’t talk at all. So, I was using a lot of hand signs, and afterwards we got a whiteboard,” said Kenzie Koppenhaver.

Communication is key in soccer, Kenzie’s favorite sport. In a way it’s life for the Kiel junior, whose a defender for the Raiders girls’ soccer team. Then everything in her life turned upside down on Christmas Eve when she and her sister Brenna were involved in a serious car accident.

“They probably hadn’t been gone more than five, ten minutes when my middle daughter called, she was in the car too, and said they were in an accident. We actually arrived at the scene before the ambulances did. They kept her in a coma early on because they wanted to keep her brain as inactive as possible. She ended up having to have a craniectomy, they had to take part of her skull off to relief some of the swelling pressure. A week after that surgery they started to kind of wean her off some of the medication that was keeping her asleep,” said Randy Koppenhaver, Kenzie’s father.

“When I started waking up, one of the first signs that I was there was they were asking me what sports I played, and when they said soccer I raised my hand,” said Kenzie Koppenhaver.

“We at that point, the things they had told us, we weren’t sure what part of the original Kenzie we’d be getting back. That was the first hopeful sign for us that hopefully she was goin to be Ok,” said Randy Koppenhaver.

Kenzie had the whiteboard as she began rehabilitation in the hospital, and the goal was clear. Get back on the field.

“She would write on her whiteboard, I want to play soccer. That’s really been her driving force to improve and get better,” said Randy Koppenhaver.

“Down on the rehab unit, they would kick a soccer ball Just like that, being able to play soccer again made me really want to get back on the field,” said Kenzie Koppenhaver.

Then big news as Kenzie was set to come home from the hospital. The neurosurgeon gave the go-ahead for Kenzie to return to playing soccer. Allowing her to return to practice less than three months after the accident, and eventually back in games.

“It brought tears to our eyes. It was so awesome. The parent section from our school district here, they gave her a standing ovation as soon as she came out. It really was amazing. We never believed we’d get to that point this soon,” said Randy Koppenhaver.

Support for the Koppenhaver family poured in from all over the soccer community while Kenzie was in the hospital and working her way back. At the same time the Raiders defender proved to be a source of inspiration for her team.

“The biggest inspiration she is to this group, when bad things happen to you always look forward and try your best. There’s so many things that upset a teenager that they can’t see the big picture, and see how precious life is. She’s just an inspiration to everyone whenever they feel a little blue, boyfriend breaks up with you, maybe you get a bad grade in school. Those are minor things compared to the big picture of life,” said Mike Pritchard.

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