2023 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Courage Award winner

Avon Lake junior Maya Osterman will be honored with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award after overcoming major medical obstacles.

CLEVELAND — After overcoming major medical obstacles to continue her competitive athletic career, Avon Lake junior Maya Osterman will be presented with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award at the 2023 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards later this month.

The award is presented annually to “an athlete who has shown courage beyond the confines of their playing field to inspire those around them.”

In 2021, Osterman was diagnosed with exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction, or EILO — a condition often mistaken for asthma — by Dr. Claudio Milstein, PhD, a voice and upper airway specialist at the Head and Neck Institute. Cleveland Clinic. Osterman was diagnosed in 2019 after experiencing chest and throat tightness, shortness of breath and shortness of breath during intense play during a summer basketball game, leading to increased anxiety during exercise.

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After her diagnosis, Osterman attended four therapy sessions with Dr. Milstein focused on various breathing techniques to retrain her vocal cords to stay open during strenuous activity. Although he initially found himself stressed and anxious when trying to apply these techniques in practice or during games.

Osterman stuck with it by relentlessly practicing his breathing techniques. She eventually made the girls’ varsity basketball team the following year.

“When I first saw Maya, she was down and out. She was struggling with her breathing on the court, and you could tell how much it was affecting her off the court,” Dr. Milstein said in a statement. It was difficult for him to have to give up basketball, but with the correct diagnosis of EILO, we were able to treat him, allowing him to return. I am proud of how hard she has worked and is working to keep EILO under control.”

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Although Osterman continues to experience symptoms of EILO, which she may always have, she now feels more confident using her breathing techniques to combat the condition.

“I feel lucky that I was able to figure out why I was struggling to breathe, and when I finally got my diagnosis, I used that as validation to jump into my recovery,” she says. “At times, I feared I would never be able to play basketball or any sport again, but I am grateful to have the support from my family and the team at Cleveland Clinic to help me return to the sport I love. “

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2023 Greater Cleveland is the premier annual sports fundraiser supporting the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and will be held on Wednesday, January 25 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. This year’s event will be hosted by Cleveland Browns legendary left tackle Joe Thomas.

You can learn more about Maya’s journey in the video player below.


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