February 10, 2020 was the first game in our regional basketball tournament. My team, Coach Hood, and I had spent long hours in the the gym preparing for this game. We analyzed game film, ran plays, practiced shooting, and Coach Hood even had some of our boys' basketball players come in to run our opponent's plays in a scrimmage against us. We were ready. As a 14-year old starting varsity guard for Pleasant Valley High School, I was never more excited and nervous about playing in a game before.
The gym was packed, and the fans were loud. The excitement from winning our area championship a few nights before had carried over. I stood in position on my home court eagerly waiting for the tip-off. As soon as the ball was knocked free, I took off running to play defense. As I pivoted to change directions in the first 7 seconds of the game, I felt the most excruciating pain along with a feeling of something swimming in my knee. As much as I wanted to play, I knew I was finished for the night. I spent the rest of the game fighting back tears and icing my knee while watching my teammates play their hearts out.
When I received the news that my ACL was ruptured and my meniscus was torn in addition to a recovery time of 6-9 months, I was heartbroken. I thrive off of the busy schedule that comes with being a multi-sport athlete. Knowing surgery was in my near future, my family had a friend reach out to us and recommend Dr. Jeff Dugas and the Andrews Sports Medicine team. From the moment I walked into Dr. Dugas' office I knew I was in good hands. He explained the surgery thoroughly to me and knew I was struggling with the amount of time it would take to fully recover and get back to my competing. Dr. Dugas said, "If you put in the work you'll come back better and stronger." The very next day, Dr. Dugas reconstructed my ACL and repaired my meniscus.
Ryan Huff and Jared Waits at ATI Physical Therapy in Jacksonville pushed me hard in therapy starting the day after my surgery. They played a huge role in my recovery success. A month after my surgery, my freshman school year ended due to COVID-19. There was nothing else to do but put in the work Dr. Dugas had told me about. I continued to go to physical therapy and spent additional time walking backwards up hills, leg weights, and running to get my knee stronger.
This past August, 6 months after my injury I was released to run cross country for my sophomore season. I was faster than ever this past year and worked hard to earn a spot on our All-County and All-Sectional cross country teams. During my cross country season, I put in additional agility work and weights to build my left quad muscle in preparation for basketball.
On November 11, 2020, I was fully released and played in my first basketball game a week later. I finished off my sophomore basketball season earning a spot on our All-Area Tournament Team, and I am looking forward to my current varsity softball season.
If it wasn’t for the Columbia blue or hot pink DonJoy knee brace I wear when I compete, you'd never know I had recently overcome a significant knee injury thanks to Dr. Dugas and his team. Dr. Dugas was right. I would come back better and stronger! Glory to God, I did!!!