UGF Softball Player, Dancer Competes with Lymphedema

Being a two-sport student-athlete is a challenge that Junior Paige Bodner has embraced. At one point she was performing for the UGF Dance Team while also getting ready for Softball season. 

"I don't really think about it as, 'I'm so busy, I'm so busy.' I just think about it as I have something to do," says Bodner.

Balancing two sports on top of homework hasn't been a problem for Paige. She's overcome challenges her entire life, which includes the fact that she has Lymphedema in her left leg. It's a condition that affects the the lymph and immune systems, causing her leg to be more prone to infections and swelling.

"I can really tell when it's been swollen," says Bodner. "I know that I've been on my feet a lot. At the end of the day, it's just another day. But I'm really conscious of what my leg looked like and make sure that I take care of it at night."

She made the discovery when she was in 8th grade. It made her change the way she had to prepare for Softball games, including the use of a compression sleeve.

"I was really upset because they were requiring my to wear this. Pretty much for the first week, I took it off," says Bodner. "I was like, I could not stand this. I don't even know what it is. The surgeon at the mayo clinic said one in 300,000 people have this. Usually some people get it after they have breast cancer and their lymph nodes, they get it in their arms. But not really just randomly in their leg."

"Our first team meeting when she was a Freshman, she basically came out and just told the whole team so everybody wasn't asking her the same questions over and over again," says her teammate Abby Ricco. "Just saying, this is what I have to wear. I have to wear a sleeve on my leg every day and keep the pressure down. Her leg was a lot bigger her freshman year but now she's kept up with it and wore her cast every night."

But that's where she set an example for her teammates. When she puts her uniform on over her compressed leg, there's no room for excuses.

"You wouldn't even know she had it," says head coach Joey Egan. "She never ever complains or talks about it. I think she's an inspiration to so many because of the way she handles herself and the effort she puts forth. She's probably our number one hustler."

Paige credits Softball for her ability to be able to handle Lymphedema.

"It's a learning process for me," says Paige. "I like to be able to control everything, but I'm learning in Softball that you can't. So you have to control what you can."

Paige is in control of her own battle with Lymphedema. And she beats it every day by choosing to step out onto the dance floor or softball field.

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