Olivia “Liv” Slivinski, a senior from Avon Lake, Ohio, overcame multiple significant orthopedic injuries to continue competitive swimming. She will be honored with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award during the 24th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards presented by Medical Mutual and Ancora on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Slivinski suffered three major injuries over a two-and-a-half-year period, causing her to miss two high school and club swimming seasons. Her first major injury occurred in March 2021 when she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a lacrosse game. In June of 2022, after recovering from her first ACL tear, she tore her left ACL, and the next day dislocated her right shoulder.
As a result of her injuries, Slivinski underwent five procedures at Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine by Lutul Farrow, M.D., and his team. In April 2021, her right ACL was repaired, followed by a right knee scope in September. Following her second ACL tear and shoulder dislocation, Slivinski underwent a repair of her right patellar tendon in May 2022. In August of that year, she had her left ACL repaired and lastly, in January 2023, her right shoulder was stabilized, and her labrum was repaired.
Throughout her recovery, Slivinski attended 140 rehabilitation sessions with Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Kelly Kinsey.
“Liv was able to tackle and succeed in overcoming three pretty challenging injuries,” Kinsey said. “She did it with grace, hard work and a refreshingly positive attitude.”
During the recovery of her first knee injury, Slivinski struggled with the fear of re-injury and found reassurance in speaking with a Cleveland Clinic sports psychologist as part of her recovery.
Despite several setbacks, Slivinski was always seen in therapy with a smile on her face and positive attitude. It was not a question of whether she could return to swimming, but when she would return. Slivinski developed confidence and independence during this period of physical rehabilitation.
“To see an athlete bounce back from not only one, but two, ACL injuries and a shoulder injury, to get back in the pool and now go on to swim in college, is what makes what we do here at Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine special,” said Dr. Farrow. “Kelly and I are Liv’s biggest cheerleaders and look forward to seeing her future success.”
Slivinski worried that her injuries would impact her social life and normal high school activities, but she persevered by continuing to participate in team practices and attended homecoming and prom. She formed a bond with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine athletic trainers at Avon Lake High School and even volunteered as a student athletic trainer this past fall. Slivinski has showed the courage to persevere through each hardship with a positive attitude, patience, and a sense of humor, that lead her back to competitive swimming.
“I was determined to bounce back after each injury — I was much more prepared the second time with my ACL, knowing what it would take to get back in the water,” said Slivinski. “The one constant was the team I had around me, Coach Vince, Kelly, Dr. Farrow and my family were all in my corner which helped me more than I can describe.”
Slivinski is currently a senior at Avon Lake High School and lives at home with her parents and younger sister. She is currently swimming without restrictions and will be competing this season. Slivinski plans to continue to be a student-athlete in swimming in college while pursuing a degree in healthcare at PennWest California.
The Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award is given to an athlete who displays courage beyond the boundaries of their playing field, to inspire those around them.
The Greater Cleveland Sports Awards is the premier annual sports fundraiser supporting Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and celebrates the past year of Cleveland’s professional, collegiate and high school sport achievements.
Tickets and tables are available for purchase at clevelandsportsawards.com.
Past recipients of the Courage Award presented by Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine include:
2022 – Maya Austerman, Avon Lake, Basketball
2021 – Robbie Boyce, St. Ignatius, Baseball
2020 – Camryn Colahan, Vermillion, Volleyball and Basketball
2019 – Skylar Scarnecchia, Champion Township, Basketball, Soccer, Track & Field and Volleyball
2018 – Sophia Pecjak, Mentor, Soccer and Basketball
2017 – Samer Babi, North Olmsted, Football
2016 – Kendra Seitz, Hudson, Competitive Swimming
2015 – Colin Teets, Westlake, Hockey
2014 – Nick Lenyo, Huron, Football
2013 – Courteney Belmonte, Westlake, Competitive Cheerleading
2012 – Molly Miller, Notre Dame Academy, Soccer
2011 – Brandee Kelly, Cleveland State University, Basketball
2010 – Olivia Warhop, Hathaway Brown School, Swimming and Soccer
2009 – Gyasi Cooper, St. Ignatius High School, Track & Field
2008 – Eric Anderson, Jr., Gilmour Academy, Basketball
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