By Evan Slavit
Earlier this season, a confident Marissa Ray looked to help Union secure a win in its first home game of the season. Family and friends excitedly watched the sophomore run up and down the court as she had done since she was four years old. Then it happened. She tore her ACL for the second time in as many years. Her season was over.
“I knew I did it again,” said Ray. “I had the same feeling and I just said, ‘Coach I did it again. I know it.’ She said ‘Come on, keep your confidence. You didn’t do it, you’re fine.’ But I just knew. It was kind of sad. My dad was sitting at half court and I just wanted to scream for him to come out on the court because it hurt more than the first time.”
A year before, Marissa looked like a star. As a freshman she finished the season third on the team with 7.1 points per game, and shot 43 percent from behind the arc on 63 attempts.
Then in one of the last games of that season she tore her ACL.
“I was in disbelief. It was at Vassar. I went up for the rebound, came down and the girl hit me and I turned the wrong way. When I went out I thought it just hurts really badly, but I’ll be fine. Then they told me I tore my ACL.”
There was one silver lining though.
“I did it at the end of the season so I didn’t miss a lot of the games. I did it at the right time,” she said.
Ray eventually wants to go into coaching, but she wasn’t ready to give up her playing days after the tear. She had surgery and started her recovery as soon as she could.
“It was a lot of work. It was six months, so I recovered most of the summer and did physical therapy here and then at home over the summer.”
Luckily, she had some help along the way.
“A girl on the team tore her ACL in the beginning of the season, so she helped me through the entire thing. The coaches were just like, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it, keep your head up.’”
Ray’s recovery went smoothly and she looked to put the injury behind her this season. She played with a brace, but that didn’t bother her.
“The first time I did practice I didn’t even think about it. I just went out there. People asked, ‘Do you notice your brace is there? Does it slow you down?’ But it didn’t at all.”
Unfortunately for Ray, we know how things ended. While it was a devastating blow, Ray is not giving up. She will have surgery to repair the tear later this year, and looks to start her rehab to hopefully get her ready for next season.
“I think the biggest thing is just getting through surgery and getting myself healthy again. Watching from the sideline is the worst thing in the world. I really do miss playing.”
The road back will be tough, and she knows there are no guarantees she will be able to play again, but she is comforted knowing her teammates and coaches will always be there for her.
“I meet with my coach often to make sure everything is good with school, classes, everything and she says ‘[Marissa], you can always be a part of this team.’ I couldn’t imagine not being around those girls. They’re all my best friends.”
Hopefully next season we can see Ray blossom into the star player she showed she could be her freshman year. If not, she can get a head start on her coaching career. Anything to be around the team.