Building Back Up: How Niwot Basketball Athletes Recover from Injuries

Emma Ortiz (she/her), Reporter

As an athlete, it is almost inevitable to avoid injuries. Sports are, after all, very physically demanding activities. Whether it be at practices or during a game, one wrong move could lead to some very serious damage. While it is hard to deal with, nearly every athlete has had to experience some form of injury caused by their sport. At Niwot, while we try our best to avoid it, several of our athletes have had to deal with some pretty serious injuries, causing them to put a harsh pause on their athletic careers. So, what do they do in the meantime?


To start, we can see how Stephen Sahaj, a senior on varsity basketball is handling a recent injury. Stephen has been playing basketball since eighth grade and has worked his way up the teams, making varsity junior year. While playing in the Niwot vs. Severance game, Stephen went up to block an opponent when he, along with several other players, fell to the ground. They ended up in one big knot, and that’s when Stephen’s ankle rolled back the wrong way, leaving him with a high ankle sprain. Now, what does that mean for Stephen’s basketball season?


Stephen only needs 2 weeks to recover, which is, luckily, better than most athletic injuries. “I’m lucky…” he admits, “… because I’ve had a lot of teammates who have had similar injuries and it’s taken them a lot longer.” Still, recovery isn’t easy, no matter how quickly it takes. During his recovery period, Stephen is still expected to go to practices at regular times. While everybody else is practicing and doing drills at the beginning of practice, Stephen usually goes into the personal trainer’s office and works on different exercises and stretches. Soon enough, Stephen will be happily back to normal.


Our next injured athlete is sophomore Molly Slupik. Her injury was caused while she was also playing basketball. She got pushed a little too hard, and she fell hard, fracturing her elbow. Molly recovers by spending most of practice with her trainer. She does her stretching exercises, then heads to practice to watch and take some mental notes on how her teammates are playing.


Finally, let’s take a look at Catherine Omer, a freshman varsity athlete at Niwot High School. Sports and athletics have always been of major significance in Cat’s life. When she was little, Cat lived in Germany for a few years. While she was there, her top sports were competitive swimming and synchronized swimming, so she spent a lot of time underwater. Soon after moving back to Colorado, she picked up a basketball and never seemed to put it down. Now, Cat has been playing basketball for around four years, and she isn’t planning to let it go anytime soon. “[Basketball] kinda just clicked with me, and it has helped me through a lot,” Cat mentions. Through both the ups and downs of life, Cat’s go-to activity when she needs to clear her brain is going out and shooting a few hoops. Unfortunately, like hundreds of athletes worldwide, Catherine had to face a pretty serious and impactful injury.


This injury didn’t just happen out of the blue, though. In 2017, Cat was playing at a park when she fell and broke her ankle, leaving her with hardware, such as screws, implanted inside of her foot. Her doctor had told her that after healing, her ankle should be fine, yet some unexpected growth caused her growth plates to force the screws out and into her muscle. Eventually, it grew into a big discomfort, right in time for basketball season. She ended up getting surgery to remove the screws, and in total, her recovery process is expected to take between eight to nine weeks before going back to normal. This could take a toll on Catherine not only physically, but also mentally. “It just kinda hurts,” Cat explains, “Especially seeing a team win and a team lose. Just being on the sidelines, and knowing that I don’t have any control over how a game goes”.


Despite having to learn how to be a team player even with an injury, Catherine has also been focusing on bettering herself in the process. She is still learning what the best routine for recovery is, but that doesn’t stop her from being her best self. After her surgery, she spent the first week resting. This meant lots of ice pumping and hours in bed with an elevated leg. Now, Cat goes to physical therapy three times a week. Slowly but surely, Catherine stopped using the elevator at school and started using the stairs again, which gave her confidence that her ankle was gaining strength and recovering to its full potential.


Even while being in some of the worst situations any athlete can be in, these basketball players haven’t felt let-down, nor have they given up. Instead, they continue to work with what they have to come back healed and ready to play better than ever. From year-long injuries to recovering in a few days, these athletes know they have a team, the Niwot community, and their coaches behind them to help in any way they can.