Junior guard Megan Buckland missed the North Carolina women’s basketball team’s 2013-14 season after undergoing surgery to repair her third ACL tear.
Senior writer Danielle Herman talked to Buckland about her most recent stages in her rehabilitation process this summer and her desire to get back playing 100 percent at practice.
THE DAILY TAR HEEL: So you’ve been working out with the team in Chapel Hill this summer?
MEGAN BUCKLAND: Yeah, I am. Basically I’m doing everything with the team.. well, the last couple practices we had, I was able to do everything.
DTH: Your knee is doing a lot better then?
MB: Yeah, it’s doing really great. Hopefully when we come back for fall semester in August, I’ll kind of really be finished with everything non-contact, I guess, and at that point, I’ll start moving into being able to to do contact at practice and workouts, and kind of ease into contact that way.
DTH: Are you still doing rehabilitation exercises and stretching for you knee?
MB: Yeah. I’m not necessarily doing that with our trainers, per say, anymore, but with our strength coach. Some of the things we do for lifting he’ll personalize for me, some of the jumping stuff and running techniques I get a little bit of extra stuff with, or do more reps of different things, but I’m still focusing a lot on strengthening my legs.
DTH: What’s been the toughest stage in rehabilitating this summer?
MB: Well, I would honestly say about where I’m at right now is the hardest part because physically I am beyond, and mentally I am ready, to be able to play. And right now is just kind of that nitpicky, just getting my leg a little bit stronger, and that kind of stuff. Right now it’s more the doctor’s precautions because of my history and because it’s my third (ACL tear). It’s my doctor’s precautions holding me back a little bit more than he normally would. And I mean, I’ve talked to him, and it’s literally only because of my history with it, or else I’d probably be allowed to do a little bit more with it at this point.
So right now it’s just really frustrating because this is the third time, and I’m just ready to play and move on to the next steps. It’s testing my patience a little bit right now.
DTH: How has your team been in supporting you and helping you be patient?
MB: They’ve been absolutely amazing. Three or four of us have had ACL tears, so they know what I’m going through personally. They’re incredible. At practice, if they were doing contact stuff and I was on the sidelines doing agility work or running, I would always hear every single one of them yelling and encouraging me even while they were doing practice.
DTH: So you don’t have any pain at all with your knee anymore?
MB: No, I mean I’m having some discomfort with patellar tendonitis stuff. But no, I can do whatever I want. It doesn’t hurt. When I’m out there on the court, it feels natural, it doesn’t feel like anything’s wrong with it.
DTH: Will you have to wear a brace?
MB: Yes, I will ... well, it’s kind of a debate with my parents right now. So yes, I will be wearing a brace, on both knees most likely. And we’ll just kind of go from there. But yes, right now, two braces.
DTH: And do you think you’ll have to keep those on during the season as well?
MB: Yes, probably. I think it’s going to be more of a mental issue for the brace for me, just knowing that I have to be more careful, more conscious. It’s kind of the mental thing of knowing that something is protecting your knee.
DTH: What are you most looking forward to in this upcoming season?
MB: Honestly, the only reason I even want to come back is just to be able to put my jersey on and play with my team one more time. It doesn't matter who we’re playing. It could be the first game of the season or the last game of the season, biggest ACC game, when we’re in Hawaii — all I want to do is get out there and play. I just feel like I’ve had so many setbacks in my basketball career that I just want to give it one last shot, and I just want to be able to put on my Carolina jersey one more time.
DTH: Do you think your setbacks have improved how you are as a basketball player?
MB: I’d say that at least from my standpoint, injuries kind of not only improved me basketball-wise, they’ve more improved other aspects of my game, because you have to just straight up watch. You’re not able to go through the drills at practice and learn that way, but you are able to learn other teammates’ tendencies on the court and learn what they like to do so that when you come back, it’s like you didn’t miss anything, if that makes sense. They have to get used to me playing back on the court, but I learn so much from my teammates and even my coaches when I’m on the sideline.
DTH: What do you expect your role to be on the team next season?
MB: I think just kind of keeping that steady head throughout the whole game, and just kind of being a leader. Not necessarily a vocal one... I mean, I’m just not a very vocal person on the court, but maybe becoming more of a vocal person for the team and leading by example, just keeping everyone calm and ready to go. I definitely think I’m going to have more of a leadership position this year for sure.
Contact the desk editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.