CJ Pinyot wasn’t supposed to play lacrosse this year. She wasn’t even supposed to be alive.
The senior women’s lacrosse player suffered her fourth severe concussion more than a year ago and was told by doctors that she may never play sports again.
Pinyot is used to taking advantage of second chances. Before she was born, she was almost aborted by her mother, who changed her mind at the last minute and decided to give her up for adoption.
“My parents told me a story about a young girl who found herself pregnant,” said Pinyot. “She knew that she would not be able to provide for her child like someone else would. Since the day I was told I was a miracle child, I have wanted to give back and share with others the love and joy that I have been blessed with in my life.”
For Pinyot, a second chance to play lacrosse was nothing after what she had already been through.
Jeff and Ruth Pinyot were told by doctors that they would be unable to conceive and that if they wanted to start a family, the best way would be through adoption. The family started the adoption process and were eventually connected with a 17-year-old girl who had very seriously considered abortion.
“She was only 17 years old and pregnant,” Pinyot recalled her parents saying. “She was fed lies that she fell for. Lies such as ‘having a baby will ruin your life’ and ‘abortion is okay.’ She went to the clinic to fulfill her abortion. However, as the nurse entered the room, she felt a sense of peace and a voice telling her to give the child life.”
This is how the Pinyots adopted their first son, Christopher. Two years later the family adopted CJ from a woman in a similar situation, giving her a different perspective on the life she was given.
“From the moment I was told my adoption story, I have had a different outlook on life than my peers,” added Pinyot. “I was given a second chance and shown mercy before I had even seen the world. I learned from a young age that we do not choose the situations we are born into. I was blessed to be placed into a loving, God-fearing and stable family.”
Her parents eventually had two sons of their own, Jonathan and Justin, completing the family. Despite the great family she has now, CJ never forgets what life could have been like for her.
Pinyot has been able to use the perspective she’s gained throughout her life and apply it to her sport. She was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and was a Division-I lacrosse recruit before suffering her third concussion during her senior year of high school. She took a gap year to recover and hopefully play lacrosse at a high level once again. After her fourth concussion, doctors told her that she may never play sports again.
When she heard about AU starting their lacrosse programs for her senior year, Pinyot just viewed this as an opportunity for yet another second chance.
Fast forward to the end of their season and it is no surprise to see just how dominate Pinyot was. She scored 19 goals while appearing in less than 10 games. She was the only senior on the roster, leading a young and unproven Ravens team to two wins in their first year of competition.
“I played lacrosse all through middle school and high school and was receiving interest from some D-I and D-II schools,” said Pinyot. “After my recovery year, I worked a lot before deciding to come to Anderson. My reason for coming here once again goes back to my family and the strong connections they have with the university. It was easy for me to follow my family’s legacy.”
Many would feel discouraged or give up after facing all that has held Pinyot back.
“Things could have been very different for me in my life,” she added. “I believe that everyone deserves second chances, even third chances.”