It is an athlete’s worst nightmare and for Sam Houston State softball player A.J. McAvoy it became reality.
After a devastating off-the-field knee injury ended her season before it began, McAvoy has done her best to stay on the road to recovery and help the team the best she can.
“I see things from the bench that I normally wouldn’t have caught,” McAvoy said. “If I notice something then I try to tell my teammates in hopes that it may help them out.”
The Bearkats have felt the void left from the loss of a team leader and one of the conference’s top hitters.
“We have really missed her hard work ethics, good attitude and leadership this season,” SHSU head softball coach Bob Brock said. “Even though she has had a knee injury, she was voted a captain for the second year in a row. Plus we miss everything she brings to the game. She is just an excellent No. 2 hitter and we really look forward to having her back.”
The junior outfielder was coming off one of the best offensive seasons for the Bearkats in the last five years. As a sophomore, McAvoy batted .364 and was voted as a third team All-Southland Conference selection.
“I told myself heading into this season that I was going to bat over .400 and be the conference MVP,” McAvoy said. “But I’ll just have to set my goals higher as I get ready for next year.”
The transition from being a player to a spectator has not been an easy one, she said.
“It made me physically sick at first, not being able to play,” McAvoy said. “I went to the doctor and he told me that I needed to take some time away from the field in order to get better.”
McAvoy was a standout athlete at Big Sandy High School, a small 1A school outside of Beaumont. In addition to softball, she was a star on the basketball and track teams.
“We played a lot of 2A schools, but being a small school, the competition wasn’t that great,” McAvoy said. “The father of one of the girls I played with worked at Sam and he told me I could probably earn a scholarship if I walked on here so I did and this is were I ended up.”
Like most athletes, the competition aspect of sports is what drives McAvoy.
“Being able to compete is what I miss the most,” McAvoy said. “In my rehab workouts, I push myself hard because I feel like I’m competing against myself.”
McAvoy said her rehab is a little bit ahead of schedule. After doing a bit of incognito jogging, she is now able to hit and lift some light weights. However, don’t let her willingness to push herself fool you; she knows her limitations.
“After I started running a little bit before I was told I could, I know what I can and can’t do.” McAvoy said. “It has helped me be able to get a jump on rehab and hopefully put this injury behind me.”
With rehabilitation going according to plan and her relentless work habits, McAoy should be poised to have another breakout season in 2004.
“I’m doing everthing I can to get back as soon as possible,” McAvoy said. “This is just an obstacle and I wion’t let it get in my way.”