Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Glad to be back

Chrisman enjoys return to court

December 19, 2007

It took Michelle Chrisman's right knee six months to heal from a torn ACL she suffered in the middle of last season.

During Basehor-Linwood's season opening home victory over Tonganoxie, the realization of the accomplishment hit her. After countless hours spent rehabbing an injured knee with the goal of returning to play basketball, Chrisman was back on the same court that the injury had occurred. Tears welled in her eyes.

Since the injury, her view of the game has changed. So, too, has her outlook on life. That will happen when you spend an hour and a half a day, seven days a week trying to regain the flexibility and strength in a knee you once took for granted.

"I became a much stronger person because of it," Chrisman said. "When I think of sports and when I play sports, I now have a different outlook on it. I appreciate being there in that moment with everyone and giving it my all. You never know what could happen. A lot of people don't realize that. I think a lot of people take their abilities for granted."

Chrisman has spoken to teammates about making the most of opportunities and realizing the importance of their current situations.

"I am pretty sure they know how I feel," she said. "I think I could probably talk to them a little bit more because before I got hurt I didn't necessarily think I was invincible, I just didn't think I would ever get hurt like that. It just snuck up on me. My career could have ended."

When Chrisman first sustained the injury last January, she didn't realize the long road to recovery in front of her. She went to therapy in Lawrence once a week. She was treated by the same doctor that treated injured Jayhawk star Brandon Rush, who suffered a similar injury.

The leg press became a major exercise in the effort to strengthen her right knee. Chrisman's goal was to press her body weight with the injured leg. She failed on the first test but came back and was able to accomplish her goal during the second test.

Chrisman also had to work on her hamstring-part of it was taken to create the new ACL. The therapists and doctors were adamant about a full six months of therapy and Chrisman complied.

Basehor-Linwood coach Noah Simpson, who was an assistant at the time of the injury, went to a couple of the therapy sessions.

"One thing I was impressed with was how dedicated she was to getting back to play," Simpson said. "She trusted what the doctors told her that she needed to do."

Chrisman made it back to play in the last basketball tournament of the summer, in July at Gardner-Edgerton High School.

"My teammates know that I am a strong person," she said. "I don't think they were worried that I would come back strong because they know how much I love the game and how much I wanted to be out there when I couldn't."

Basehor-Linwood placed second in Gardner and Chrisman was critical in how the team played, Simpson said.

The player was just happy to be back doing what she had always loved to do.

"I was really excited," Chrisman said. "I didn't want to have a fear when I went out there because I worked so hard to get to that point. I just wanted to go out there and have fun and be with my teammates again. It had been so long."

Chrisman played volleyball in the fall. Simpson said playing in a sport before basketball helped her gain confidence in the knee.

This winter, the Bobcats fast start is helped by Chrisman's return and new role. After spending the beginning of last year as more of a ball handler and passer from the wing, Simpson has given his guards the green light to run and gun. In Friday's contest against Mill Valley, BLHS won the tip-off, and Chrisman hit a three pointer in the game's first six seconds. Basehor started the game with a 10-0 lead and the Jaguars never recovered.

"She is extremely crucial to our team," Simpson said. "She gives us an outside threat that we need to have. With defenses focusing on stopping Cassie (Lombardino), Michelle opens things up by shooting from outside. She has been tremendous from a consistency standpoint. She has made great rebounds, made good passes, and we know she is going to knock down shots."

Chrisman said she feels a sense of reward for the hours she put in during rehabilitation because she has returned to a Basehor team, 5-0, that could make a run in the Class 4A Substate tournament.

"It makes me feel really good," Chrisman said. "I know if I didn't work as hard, I wouldn't be a part of it. I've known all these girls for a long time and this is always something that we wanted. I know I have worked extremely hard to get here. It is awesome."

Neither Simpson nor Chrisman are concerned that the knee will wear down this season. Chrisman said the right knee is now stronger than the left. She wears a knee brace, which she must keep on until the one year anniversary of the injury. Chrisman said she no longer notices it when playing.

Simpson said there is only one difference in the Michelle Chrisman of this year and the one from last: "The only thing is that she plays every game like it is getting close to the end of her senior year. She has the desire to play hard every second she is out there. That has been a positive out of all of this. Undergoing an ACL injury, as a player, you realize you can't take anything for granted."

Chrisman said the knee is 100 percent.

"I worked so hard and I am finally back and I appreciate being out there and actually playing again," Chrisman said. "It just feels really good to be out there again having fun. I look at it a lot different."

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