To say Wyoming East guard Abby Russell went from the best day of her life to one of her worst wouldn’t be cliché.
On May 1 she was all smiles after winning a state championship and being named to the Class AA all-tournament team.
On May 2 she knew her basketball career would be put on halt.
During a practice with her AAU team the day after the Class AA championship game, Russell suffered a knee injury that was confirmed this past week to be an ACL tear.
“It was the first practice I went to because we had just finished states,” Russell said. “We were kind of scrimmaging – it was at the end of practice. I was playing defense and I stepped sideways to stop a girl and my knee went inwards. There was no contact at all or anything. It just went inwards and popped.”
The injury came after Russell had played three games in four days, guarding each team’s best player.
Despite some soreness from the title run, she was eager to jump back in and build upon a season that saw her blossom into a Class AA first-team all-stater.
“I was sore,” Russell said. “My legs, I couldn’t really feel them, but I thought I could do it.”
Russell had never suffered a knee injury, but knew almost immediately what had happened.
Unfortunately for the Wyoming East program, the feeling is all too familiar.
All-state guard Gabby Lupardus tore her ACL in 2016 and again in 2018 while Russell’s teammate Sky Davidson tore hers as a freshman in 2018 as well.
If there’s any good news for Russell its that she has a support system around her that’s familiar with the injury and how to rehab it.
“I talked to Sky and she told me it’s going to be hard work,” Russell said. “I have to do it if I want to play again. She just told me to not give up on it no matter how hard it gets and just keep working at it.”
The injury will require surgery, something Russell is hoping to have done in the next month. Still, the unfortunate news is the recovery time for an ACL tear is, at best, six months and in most cases nine months. Due to the timing of the tear, it likely eliminates the possibility of her playing her junior season. Nine months from today would have her returning in late March, right after the girls state tournament usually takes place.
That’s a reality she’s come to accept.
“I don’t think I’ll get to play my junior year,” Russell said.
Much like those before her that have suffered the same injury, Russell doesn’t plan to sit idly on the sidelines. She plans to be involved as much as possible as the team looks for a new leader following the graduations of Davidson and Sarah Saunders.
“On and off the court, even if it’s not on the court I can still lead the team from the sideline,” Russell said. “Just being in the gym with the girls everyday I think will help me too. They motivate me a lot.”
Contact Tyler Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at 304-731-5542 and follow on Twitter @tjackRH