Oct. 8, 2013
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Sarah Sherman
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Adversity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines adversity as a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune. Imagine a baby a little less than two pounds being a fighter in the face of adversity. Defeat seems imminent and is rare to overcome, but it has been done.
Cassie Hochwalt, a senior tennis player at UCF has done just that. From the very beginning of her mother's pregnancy it seemed that all of the odds were against her. However, on Sept. 18, 1991, weighing in at 1 pound 13 ounces, Hochwalt was prepared to show the world that she was a fighter.
The doctors who delivered her likened her to the length of a one dollar bill.
In Hochwalt's first 10 weeks of life she fought bacterial pneumonia in both of her lungs, an underdeveloped heart, liver disease, and spinal meningitis and 10 days after her birth a blood vessel burst and her brain hemorrhaged.
In all of this she never stopped fighting and her family never stopped believing in her.
At the age of 10, Hochwalt was ready to take on the family sport of tennis, both her father and older brother played at the collegiate levels at Mississippi State and Florida, and she wanted nothing more than to follow in their footsteps.
Hochwalt came out of Scottsdale, Ariz., and took her talents to Austin Peay in Tennessee. She then transferred from Austin Peay as a junior to UCF where she has found a clos-knit team.
Recently, Hochwalt was announced as the Dianne Miller Courage in Tennis award recipient by the USTA Southwest section.
Miller battled acute liver disease, and she put as much dedication into her fight as she did on the court. She received a liver transplant and the weekend following her procedure she was able to be a spectator of the sport she desperately loved. Three months later, she was back on the court, racquet in hand.
The award nominee application explains that this honor is not anticipated to be given annually but "saved for issuance in only the very special occasions." Hochwalt exemplifies that in every way. She has shown the world that she can fight and will continue to fight.