VU WBB: Clair Watkins in Her Own Words

VU WBB: Clair Watkins in Her Own Words

When Clair Watkins arrived on campus last July, she was expected to make an immediate impact in the 2010-11 season, adding some much-needed height to the women's basketball team. But unfortunately, before the season began, she suffered a season-ending knee injury. In her own words, she talks about her progress towards returning to the court.

It happened on October 15, the first day of practice, in the third drill we did. It's a drill we've done before in warm-ups, a three-man break where one of the guards lobs the ball to me from half-court. I just turned over my shoulder to catch it, but for some reason, when I put my right leg out in front of me, it was kind of at an angle. I would have been okay, but at the last second, my leg locked straight – I guess I didn't realize where the ground was, or something.

So there was just one bad step, and I heard my knee pop. It was really loud in my head, like a little tearing noise. It didn't hurt at all, really, but I knew exactly what had happened because I just knew if you hear a pop, it's your ACL, it's something bad.

I knew, but we had to get the MRI the next day, and it was a torn ACL. Luckily, it was only the ACL. I had minor, minor, minor MCL injury, but that was over within weeks. They didn't need to do anything for that. I only had an ACL surgery where they took a part of the hamstring from my right leg and put it in there for my ACL.

Surgery was very painful the first two weeks, but then it was just amazing how grateful I became when I could walk without a limp. I'd been walking for 18 years not even thinking about it, and then once I actually couldn't walk . . . I'm just grateful now that I can run and walk and do everything.

As far as rehab, Michele Loftis, our trainer, had me doing things on the sidelines, gradually throughout the whole season. I went to every practice. I missed away games during the week, but besides that, I was at practice, weights, everything. She had me do my own circuits. I mostly did arms at first because my legs were just building up, and I'd just walk around the gym. Eventually I'd walk up the stairs, and eventually I ran up the stairs, and eventually I ran in a straight line, then eventually moved to weaving. I started cutting two or three weeks before the season ended and was able to pivot. I'd been doing single leg jumps several weeks before that. It was gradual, but it happened.

I tried to shoot maybe four months ago, but I still wasn't completely ready. It's odd because the jump shot that I have, I jump really high when I shoot, and I could feel my form getting off and my knee getting sore. But now that I can jump and run properly, I'm good to go again. Right now, I still can't play pickup, or play full court, but I did the individual workouts that we had, so basically if I stay within the 3-point line, I can do anything right now.

We go home for the month of May. For me, I'm going to be doing the weights that our trainer gives us, and Michele is going to give me special running to do. We're all coming in June, and our incoming freshmen will come in July. I had a jump training test two and a half weeks ago to get cleared for individuals, and I'm going to have another one when I come back in June, so as long as I keep up with my workouts and keep training, I think I'll be good to go -- keeping my fingers crossed -- in June.

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