The story of how @katie met @katieshow starts with fewer than 140 characters.
When establishing an Internet presence for “Katie,” show staff found @katie was taken by Katie LaRue.
Then, they realized LaRue had a story that could be told on the show and emailed her.
“I thought it was a joke,” LaRue said, saying she thought the email was a well-written scam.
LaRue, who works at Mercersburg Academy, traded emails and phone calls with a senior field producer, Matt Lombardi. At first, she thought he was going to try to buy her Twitter identity, but he instead wanted to talk about her recovery from serious injury more than a decade ago.
“I didn’t even realize it was a story to tell,” LaRue said.
In 1999, LaRue was mountain biking with a friend for a full day. They stopped at the end of their ride to take pictures of each other riding over a series of jumps.
One photo catches the final moments before LaRue broke her neck.
“You can see on my face something was wrong” on that jump, she said.
Both LaRue and her friend had undergone wilderness first-aid training. Together, they worked to gently move LaRue off her stomach because she couldn’t breathe.
“I felt like I had been put in a duffel bag and thrown down the stairs,” LaRue said.
LaRue, now 32, spent four months in a neck brace. She initially lost use of her right arm and had bone from her hip fused into her neck.
The accident and subsequent recovery mentally affected the Charleston Southern University athlete.
“I think it was a wake-up call that there was more to life than basketball,” said LaRue, who also played volleyball in college and had experience in dance and soccer.
LaRue picked up a guitar, started looking up chords online and taught herself to play, despite the arm and wrist injuries. She released emotions and boredom through music for the first time.
Today, LaRue writes and records music self-described as “pop,” “folk” and “Americana.” She is working on her third album, which will be entitled “On the Bright Side.”
The North Carolina native became the assistant athletic director at Mercersburg Academy last year and is the private school’s girls basketball coach. She did resume playing college basketball about a year after the accident.
Lombardi and two crew members filmed LaRue for a day in May. Some of her basketball team members appeared on camera.
Last week, LaRue participated in further filming of her “Katie” episode in front of a live audience in New York City. That episode aired Wednesday.
LaRue, who called the experience “surreal,” said she was not nervous during filming.
“I love to entertain,” she said. “I love to make to make people laugh.”
On the Web: