My first year in university didn’t go as I hoped it would, being injured and recovering for a year and a half was probably one of the worst times of my life. Before tearing my ACL I had never been injured before, so when I took the first step going up for a layup and felt a pop in my knee I thought I would be fine to play again in a few days. Coming to the realization that I would not be able to play for months was a big change I was used to my wake up, workout and practice routine, everything I did after was now controlled by my injury. For a while I hated that I played basketball, thinking that this would not have happened if I picked another sport or if I never played a sport at all. But at the same time it gave me a feeling of wanting to play greater than I have ever felt before. I sat on the sidelines during practice and didn’t travel with the team for aways games. I tore my ACL in October and waited to get surgery until April and I felt that I was missing out and it was hard to feel like I was still a part of the team.
I think most times when people are injured and given long recovery time they look for other athletes to relate to, to be on your side, someone who understands and someone who will push you. In that sense it was easy to find motivation to get back on the court because I constantly had someone to push me during my rehab process. I had knee surgery a couple weeks after my younger sister did so we would do our exercises together. No one really understood how exciting it was when we were able to bend our knee a few more degrees than we did the day before expect for us. She made it easier when I wasn’t able to walk for 2 weeks or couldn’t run for 16 weeks, we would compete against each other making it feel like the time went by quicker. After surgery I found what helped mentally was setting little goals each week or every few weeks that I could work to accomplish, even if it was as simple as lifting my leg on its own.
I realized that a lot of the recovery process is mental rather than physical, sure I had to work out to strengthen my knee, but progress doesn’t happen overnight. I felt like my leg wasn’t mine it didn’t do anything that I wanted it to do or go where I wanted to go. I had to start from the very beginning simple things that I used to do with ease became struggles; learning how to walk, jump, and land to prevent reinjuring. You never really realize what you’re going to miss until you can’t do it anymore, I remember one of my first practices back I was looking forward to being able to run an up and back. I still think about my injury a lot, my first year back my knee would swell up and get stiff after every game and practice, and I wondered if it would ever feel normal again. I realized that I just had to throw myself back into it I couldn’t be worried about taking a wrong step or not play aggressively because I was scared getting hit. Now before every game I listen to the same motivational speech that gives me confidence and reminds me to embrace the bigger picture of how far I’ve come.
I obviously did not believe this at the time but I think that tearing my ACL really helped me in the long run, I was able to turn one of my lowest points into a high point. Ultimately if I were to write a letter to my injured self from my now recovered self I would start by saying thank you. Thank you for teaching me that things don't always come easy and thank you for giving me a new perspective. Most of all I am thankful because I learned that I am stronger than I once thought I was and I rediscovered my love for basketball. Being a student athlete is a privilege and this injury taught me to be thankful that I have the opportunity to go to school and do what I love to do.