SPRINGFIELD, Mo — “It felt like a part of me was gone. For so long that has been my life. Yes, school and relationships are important to me, but I’ve always had this sport. It’s kind of like a relationship,” said Emily Myers.
Emily Myers never imaged that basketball, would break her heart.
“A lot of tears have came from this sport,” said Myers.
You could say, it was love at 1st sight.
“Going to SMS with my dad, watching Jackie Stiles play. I said I wanted to do that some day. It was always a dream,” said Myers.
“Being polite and shy off the court, I could step on the court and just be someone completely different. Be aggressive, come out of my shell, and be a leader.”
“It was never a question of ‘somehow I am going to get there,'” said Myers.
But sitting on the bench at Evangel University that fateful day, Emily lived her worst nightmare: A season ending ACL tear.
“I didn’t know what the feeling was, and it scared me to death,” said Myers. “They said if you want to play again, we are going to have to have surgery really soon.”
“I had finally gotten to the point of where I wanted to be as a little girl. I had finally reached the point where I was the best I could be. I was playing better than I had my entire life, and all of a sudden it was gone.”
Lady Crusader Basketball fans know her as Emily Akins, and her name was no secret either. Number 22 led the Heart of America Conference in scoring as a junior. She was also the 3rd leading scorer in NAIA Division 1, up until her injury.
“These girls are getting to be very competitive, and very athletic,” said Chris Miller.
Dr. Chris Miller is an orthopedic surgeon with Cox Health in Springfield.
“For the ACL, we will take the central 3rd of the patellar tendon, or the 2 hamstring tendons on the inside of the knee. We then replace that torn ligament with a tendon graft,” said Miller.
The surgery itself typically takes under 2 hours, but its followed by 6 long months of rehab.
“It takes that long for the body to turn that tendon into a ligament,” said Miller.
“The human body is incredible, but it was learning how to walk again,” said Emily Myers.
Through the process, Emily relied on her hopes and dreams for senior year.
“I didn’t play my whole like to end like this. I was trying to stay positive, but that senior year is what I was really holding on to,” said Myers.
Before she knew it, the guard was able to lace up her shoes, throw on her jersey, and walk back on the court for her senior year.
“It was the CofO game. Biggest rivalries. The gym was packed. About as packed as an Evangel Womens Basketball game could be. It was fun and I was feeling it,” said Myers. “It was one of those games you just really want to win.”
“I remember dribbling to the paint. The girl cut me off. I just froze and dropped to the ground. I didn’t even know what it felt like, but I knew right then that I had tore it again. I knew exactly what that feeling was. Everything just kind of disappeared. I was just angry.”
Her 2nd, and final ACL tear.
“I’m done, and it just came real to me. I just looked my dad in the eye, and still to this day its hard to have these conversations with him. I knew I could never let him down, but I just really wanted to do it for him,” said Myers.
According to Summit Rehab, there are 250,000 ACL injuries in the US every year, costing more than 2 billion dollars. In womens high school basketball, the Center for Injury Research and Policy reported over 14,000 knee injuries in the 2014-15 school year, the leading cause for high school sports related surgeries.
“I think we are giving them a much better knee than people with have without the surgery, but we certainly aren’t giving them the knee that God gave them,” said Miller.
In the Show-Me state, The Missouri State High School Athletics Association reports that females rupture their ACL 3 times as much as males.
A statistic, that Emily Myers, fell victim to not once, but twice.
“It’s the hardest thing I have gone through, but I know it’s not the hardest thing I will go through,” said Myers.
“I’m thankful for it. It makes me realize that basketball has taught me so much more. Learning to deal with complete devastation and complete loss for what’s going on in your life. I wouldn’t trade that,” said Myers.