FORT WAYNE – Time to run some sets out here at Homestead, and, look, here’s Emily Bley’s new best friend, dragging her off the floor again. The new best friend doesn’t say a lot, but Bley always knows it’s there. And you have no idea how badly she wishes it weren’t.
That brace on her left knee, after all, isn’t who she was supposed be hanging out with in early November, as her senior season unfolds. But stuff happens.
For Bley, it happened in the triple-digit days of early July, in a moment as ordinary as ordinary gets. She was bringing the basketball up the floor at a college basketball camp. She made a spin move she’s made, she says a million times. And she felt something in her leg pull.
I’d never hurt my knees before, so I didn’t know if it was a severe injury or just a minor injury, Bley says, four months along. I talked to several different trainers, and they said I’d be back in a week. So I went to Cincinnati, which was a week later.
And, there, 20 seconds after she stepped on the floor, her knee just popped.
There wasn’t any pain to speak of, oddly enough, but Bley knew something wasn’t right. So she limped off the floor and sat down, still not terribly concerned.
I thought I would be back in a month at the most, she says. I thought I’d be fine.
And then the MRI came back. And welcome to the new best friend.
Turns out Bley had torn her ACL and meniscus, and on July 20 she had surgery. Six to seven months of rehab, the docs told her, lay ahead.
This was hardly the sort of news either Bley or her coach, Rod Parker, needed to hear. Bley was not only the only returning senior from a Homestead club that went 18-6 last season, she was one of the best guards in the NHC, averaging 17.4 points and 6.4 assists in 2011-12. The latter number made her the third top distributor in the area.
Now she not only had to sit out soccer with her new best friend, she has to sit and watch the basketball season take off without her. And while the former sort of prepared her for the latter, it didn’t prepare her all that well.
(Soccer) was actually a lot easier than sitting out basketball, says Bley, who’s hoping to be back by the end of December. I can shoot, which is good. But I miss playing so much.
My knee feels fine, I don’t have a lot of pain with it, so I feel like I can just get up and go play. But I know that I can’t.
In the interim, she does what she can, encouraging and helping teach Parker’s system to the younger players, of whom Homestead has a ton.
Bley and junior Sydney Buck are the only two upperclassmen on the roster. So, she does what she can, leads in the only way she can.
Emily is at every practice, Parker says. Many times the first kid there. She’s a leader and kind of like an assistant coach and helps some of the young kids out. To her credit, she’s a great young lady so when her opportunity arrives to come back, all the kids will appreciate what she’s doing now even more.
Not to mention what she’ll do later.