Liebert anxious to contribute having recovered from serious knee injuryBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
Tearing a major ligament is a devastating injury to the knee, let alone what it does to the life of a teenage girl and high school athlete.
As a freshman at Oak Ridge High in 2009-2010, Lauren Liebert was one of the freshman team’s top players. Her coach, Greg Lamy, fondly remembers his time as her coach.
“Lauren was a solid player -- a really smart player -- and averaged 10 to 12 points a game and provided great floor leadership,” Lamy said. “She was a great kid and a hard worker.”
Liebert’s ability to score aside, Lamy’s characterization of her as a leader, being smart and having a strong work ethic has served her well the last three years. In October 2010, Liebert tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, thereby ending her junior varsity basketball season before it started and all but a few games of her junior season on the varsity team. About 18 months later in the spring of 2012, Liebert tore the same ligament in the same knee, along with the meniscus, putting her senior season in serious jeopardy.
“It was really hard to deal with,” Liebert said of the second injury. “I would watch a game and go home and cry. I love the sport so much, though, I made sure I wouldn’t let the injury cut the game out of my life altogether. I stayed with my team and went to all the games and practices and tried to help in any way I could. I’ve told all my teammates to take advantage of every opportunity they get to play because this injury has made me realize that you don’t know when your last time to play will be.”
Oak Ridge varsity coach Steve White had hoped to have Liebert back for senior night, the last regular season home game, if not for any other reason than to get her on the court one last time in her home gymnasium.
“She was Coach Liebert until she was able to play again,” White said. “She’s an intelligent player and has been recognized as a leader who’s very vocal. She’s been with the team all along and has worked her tail off rehabilitating it.”
Liebert has earned the respect of her teammates for the hard work she’s done to recover twice from the serious injury, as well as for her dedication to the team despite the fact that she hasn’t been able to play.
“Lauren’s handled things really well, considering she’s gone through this twice now,” teammate Haley Anderson said. “I’ve been with her since elementary school and she’s worked so hard. With her not able to play, she’s still given us insight and advice and is always reminding us to play hard.”
Liebert’s teammate, as well as her cousin, Jenn Hoffman added, “She’s been through a lot and I can’t wait to play with her.”
Liebert received an early Christmas present on Dec. 17, when her doctor cleared her to return to practice, much sooner than she figured she’d be able to play. While she’s practiced, Liebert doesn’t plan to begin playing until the league schedule begins Tuesday.
“It feels amazing to be cleared to play,” Liebert said. “My knee is sore now and then and I ice it, but it feels good. My goal is to get back in shape and keep getting better. I would love to be a starter, but I know that’s going to be difficult. I’m just going to try to get myself better and by doing that I will make my teammates better too.”
Liebert said she loves the intensity of the game of basketball, a sports she’s played since she was 5 years old. Whether she’s scoring, making a steal, playing good defense or taking a charge, Liebert loves it all.
“From basketball and my injuries, I’ve learned to always be positive,” Liebert said. “I learned not to let injuries from stopping me from working hard. I need to stay strong no matter what.”