Athlete recovers from life shattering injury to play for SMC

Asta Karalis

Sarkis Ekemekian

After being confined to a wheelchair for an entire summer as the result of a jet ski accident, Connor Corgiat has managed to play on SMC’s volleyball team after making a complete recovery, and has been able to excel in the sport he has been so passionate about throughout his life.

Corgiat’s life came to a sudden halt during his sophomore year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, because of a man driving against traffic on a jet ski.

The tragic event shattered Corgiat’s knee, tore his ligaments, fractured his left pelvis, broke his left arm and left side ribs, and collapsed his lung.

After undergoing a number of operations, “the doctors told me they didn’t think I would be able to ever play at the same level,” said Corgiat.

Corgiat moved back home to spend his recovery with his family; a path to recovery that would take roughly two and a half years for him to function normally, and, according to Corgiat, will last a lifetime.

“The road to recovery was the toughest thing I have ever done,” said Corgiat. “Aside from all the physical damage, there was a psychological damage as well. Knowing I had to stop volleyball and basically every other aspect of my life was not easy to live with. Everyday was a struggle, and I had to constantly be patient through it all. If it were not for the support of my family, I could not have done it. I was in a wheelchair for the entire summer, and my brother pushed me around when I needed to get places.”

Corgiat then moved to Los Angeles in August 2011, and contacted SMC men’s volleyball Head Coach John Mayer, to see if he could join the Corsairs. He then started taking classes at SMC in the fall of 2011.

But according to Mayer, this was not going to stop the “fiery competitor” from being “very aggressive,” and doing what he loved to do: Play volleyball.

“He’s a go getter,” said Mayer. “He’s not going to mince words; he’ll say that this is what he’s going to do and ‘come with me!’ He’s not going to go the path of least resistance. We spoke a little bit, and I knew that he was a really talented player, and that he’d be a good fit here.”

Corgiat intends to transfer to Loyola Marymount University as a Business Marketing major to pursue a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. However he will not be able to play there since this is his fifth year playing, which is the maximum number of years allowed for a student to play in college.

“I will never stop playing volleyball,” said Corgiat. “I plan to start competing in beach volleyball tournaments soon.”

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