LAKELAND, Fla. - Zoe Gibbs may blend in with everyone else on the volleyball court at Lakeland's McKeel Academy of Technology, and if you ask her, that's just fine. Unlike most high school athletes, she's not looking to be a star on the court. In fact, she's just happy to be on the court at all. That's because last Easter a jet ski collision left Zoe with a severed leg and nearly took her life.
"One personal water craft actually went up and over the other one," said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the agency that investigated the crash.
"One of the first things she said was I'll never be able to play volleyball again," recalls Zoe's mother Susan.
Doctors were forced to amputate just below the knee and after nearly a dozen surgeries and a year in a wheel chair, Zoe is now not only walking again, but back on the court.
"She never let this stop her. She just said okay I'm here, it's now or never," said Zoe's coach Nikki Krause. Her coach says what's most amazing is how quickly Zoe is adapting to her new artificial leg.
"She's only been walking about six months now, and she's still learning her body and learning how to do this and volleyball is so fast," said Krause.
We wanted to interview Zoe during the final game of her home season, but she'd much rather have the attention be on the rest of her team. Her classmates on the other hand had plenty to say.
"She's so strong... and she's an inspiration to me," said a tearful Bevin Mas, one of Zoe's best friends and fellow teammates.
"Most people would have just said they're done with the sport. She still wants to play it... and she can still do it!" said Dwayne Bacon, an athlete on McKeel's basketball team.
Zoe's dream had been to continue her volleyball career at the college level, and while that dream remains in doubt those who know Zoe best say she'll likely accomplish anything she puts her mind to.
"I try to get the girls all the time to have the attitude go hard and go home," said Coach Krause. "If she can do it... anyone can do it."
Beau Zimmer, 10 News