From Heartbreak to Healing: An Athlete’s Journey Back

By Molly Seales

Often in life, things do not go as planned, and sometimes we have to learn this lesson earlier than we would like. That is exactly what happened to Riverdale junior athlete Sky McMullan. McMullan, who transferred to RA from Claiborne Academy last year, became a vital part of the basketball and softball teams. Unfortunately, a torn ACL injury resulted in surgery and months of rehab, and she was just released this past week to return to the basketball court. McMullan came back strong, like she had never been gone, in the final district game of the year-a win over Briarfield. She had 9 points, including a beautiful 3-pointer from the left side. I had a chance to ask Sky about her journey back and her determination and the inspiration she has been to others.

Sky could be seen this year in the dugout and on the sidelines cheering on her teammates and supporting them with a fantastic attitude, while her heart’s desire was to be able to join them. Here are some of the questions that Sky answered for me.

When was your injury? How did you hurt you knee? “My first knee injury was at a home game on January 14, 2022, and my second one was on May 14th in an AAU game. Both times I jumped up and my left leg slammed down while it was fully straightened. It also bent backwards.”

When did you find out you had a torn ACL? When was your surgery? How long did they say your rehab would take?  “The first time I hurt my knee, I only thought I sprained it. The second time I hurt it, I thought I needed to go to the doctor to just make sure nothing was torn. I had an MRI, and it showed a completely torn ACL. I had surgery on June 20, 2022. I was told that my rehab would last 6-8 months.”

What did you do in rehab to get ready to get back to the field and the court? “I had to shock my leg muscles in my left leg. I did leg workouts like leg extensions, squats, single leg squats, and one leg hops for distance. I got released from rehab at 6 months, but then I worked out by myself at school and went to a basketball trainer.”

What were your feelings as you waited to be released? How did you feel on release day? “I felt anxious, excited, and very nervous. I was happy to finally play with my teammates again. I was also ready to dominate and show our new coach that I’m worth something.”

How did you feel as you stepped on the court for the first time? “I felt so happy. I was really nervous, but once I caught the ball, I scored and felt like I came back better than ever.”

Who would you like to thank for their support of you as you were on this journey? “ I would like to thank my mom and dad, my sister Mandy, and my teammates. All of the parents and fans at Riverdale have been very supportive and encouraging. I’d like to thank my physical therapist Mrs. Ashton and my trainer, Rayvin Miller.”

Sky’s journey has been inspirational and she has been a true example of when life deals you blows, you don’t lie down and quit-you work harder to get better and come back stronger than ever.

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