PLAINVILLE - According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about 70 percent of ACL injuries in athletes happen through mechanisms such as pivoting, cutting, sidestepping, out of control play or awkward landings. Plainville forward Caitlin Barker was among that 70 percent.
Barker, now in her junior year, tore her ACL last season in Plainville’s game against Maloney.
“It happened on the fourth game of the season last year,” Barker said. “I was in a very energetic mood that game and I got a rebound and pulled it down and I just ran to the other side of the court. I happened to go up and I just came down on it wrong.”
The Blue Devils finished out the year 5-15, missing the Class M playoffs.
“It hurt us last year when she went down early with the ACL early on in the season,” Plainville head coach Jessica Neuwelle. “We were off to a really good 3-2 start so having her back this season is phenomenal.”
But as with most major surgeries, the recovery process for Barker was long and tedious.
“Ten months I hadn’t played,” said Barker after Thursday night’s game against Bristol Eastern. “It’s hard because you have the physical therapy, you have the surgery, you know it does take time to get that mentality back. I struggled. It was chunk by chunk. I’d be cleared for a few things but not everything else.”
Barker would be cleared to run, but not cut. It stayed that way until nearly the end of her recovery, when she was cleared for everything besides cutting.
“I did have a lot of mental struggles, but my parents and all my friends they really helped me throughout this process to keep me confident,” Barker said.
Barker is certainly confident out on the basketball court and has made it known she is back.
In the senior opener Monday night against New Britain, Barker put away 27 points to start the season. She then topped herself against the Lancers on Thursday, helping the Blue Devils to a 61-55 win.
Barked scored a game-high 34 points and was also 8-for-12 at the free throw line.
“I’m a scorer and I also love to pass, my number one goal is obviously to get a win,” Barker said. “My teammates got me the ball and without them I wouldn’t be in this position, so I really wanted to get this win today. After the New Britain loss it was hard, and I just really wanted to come back and get a win [Thursday].
“It’s a great feeling to be back on the court. Last year, it was really hard watching my team and now this year I get to be with them and share this winning feeling with them, it’s fantastic. It’s all I ever dreamed of.”
Neuwelle applauds the passion and constant aggressiveness that Barker brings to the court, but one thing she admires most is her ability to be a good teammate.
“She likes seeing other people's success just as much as hers, it’s really great to have her back,” Neuwelle said.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org