Rare heart condition gives Lewiston-Altura’s Joelle Hammann new perspective on life

For Joelle Hammann, a night on the ice means more than just practice.

“I three-turned wrong!”

But a chance to do what she loves.

“I love working on my big jumps and always achieving my goals.”

But skating isn’t her only love, as Hammann has room in her heart for basketball, volleyball, track, and more. But despite the all love she has for sports, it was her heart that put her on the sidelines and off the ice.

“In 2017 I passed out in church. The doctor called my mom over the phone and told her I needed a heart transplant, and that was a little shocking.”

Joelle was diagnosed with a rare heart disease–ARVC, or arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy– that put her life in danger.

“Your pumps, and the chamber of your heart, all that muscle turns into fatty tissue, making it very hard to pump blood,” Hammann said.

And in a matter of days, she couldn’t do what she loved.

The doctors had told me, ‘no sports, you cannot participate in any sports.”

But just because she couldn’t play didn’t mean she was off the team.

“I kinda threw out the question, I said ‘I know you play basketball, would you be interested in managing?”

Coach Ethan Scheck knew she could still leave her mark on the program.

“He suggested manager, because it was the only thing I could do,” Hammann said.

So Joelle watched from the sidelines, helping her team improve as a manager.

“I love watching them work hard in practice and during a game,” Hammann said. “Seeing something that they’ve struggled with so long and finally being able to execute it.”

But after watching others work for their goals, she knew it was time to get back to hers.

“When I went down I was a little nervous, but I was excited because it had been two years of me being exhausted, and not being able to do the things that I’ve been able to do.”

She put her new heart to work, giving the sports she missed her all.

But her time away from competing introduced a new love.

“I had the ability to play basketball this year, but because I had such an amazing experience I decided to become a manager as well,” she said.

Due to the pandemic, she’s not the only one who had sports taken away from her. So as a manager, she’ll make sure her the Cardinals gets as much from their second chance as she did.

“Work hard every single day,” she said. “You never know when something’s going to be taken away from you.”