Softball star's courageous journey continues at Breakthrough Series

August 28th, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tess Williamson used to think about the accident a lot.

The fractured skull, broken jaw, traumatic brain injury, lacerated liver, broken pelvis and her father’s death are a lot to dwell on. On June 5, 2018, the Tesla that Williamson was riding in was struck by a car that pulled into a dangerous intersection. The collision happened less than a mile from Williamson’s home in Keenesburg, Colo.

Williamson, 12, was in a coma for 10 days and she was hospitalized for approximately a month. Getting back to her normal life was the goal -- and softball was the first thing that signaled her healing process had begun.

Now a junior in high school, Williamson plays softball for her high school and club teams. This week, she is in Oklahoma City for the OKC Breakthrough Series. She represents the Colorado Rockies and is one of 42 participants from MLB’s Youth Academy and RBI programs to earn an invite to the camp held at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

Williamson has spent four days learning from coaches like 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch and NCAA all-time home run leader Jocelyn Alo. Williamson said she has been to a few softball camps, but the high-level coaching sets this one above the rest.

In the dark weeks that followed her accident, softball remained a source of comfort. Her teammates kept her company at the hospital and her teammates' parents treated her as their own.

“It has helped a lot -- like a lot,” Williamson said. “My team that I was with before the accident showed up to the hospital a couple days. They were always there for me, and all their parents were like parents to me, too. Softball was just like my getaway. I could just forget about everything else and focus on one thing.”

Softball was too important to Williamson for her to stay away. Steve Jenkins, Williamson’s grandfather, said softball brought her close to her father, who was a strong supporter of her softball career since she picked up a bat after she turned 8 years old.

“After the crash," Jenkins said, "she felt obligated to continue playing because that’s what her daddy wanted her to do."

Approximately eight weeks after the accident, Williamson returned to the softball field. She was hardly recognizable as a player because the hospital stint sapped her strength. She had to temporarily vacate her spot as catcher because of the position’s physical demands.

“I was definitely weak,” Williamson said. “I was really, really skinny and I lost all my muscle. But it was so good. I mean, I still hit, I could still throw and I even slid. I was good.”

Rounding third base, Williamson said she heard her teammates yelling at her to get down and slide. She leaned back and directed her weight on her bad hip, sliding into home. It was only after she got up that she realized her teammates had been telling her she had time and didn’t need to slide.

Williamson’s slide beat the tag. Scoring that run, she recounts so vividly, proved a couple things to her: She could continue to play softball at a high level and she could begin looking at the crash in the rearview mirror.

Taking after her mother, Williamson wants to be a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Her goal is to play college softball, but only if the university offers her desired medical path.

These days, she doesn’t think about the accident as much.

"I think last year I finally was like, ‘OK, this is what happened. I can move past it,’” Williamson said. “Yeah, it was definitely hard for a while, but I finally moved past it and I obviously still remember it, and I still have my hard days, but I have more good than bad.”