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Taking a knee

Editor’s note: This is the first segment in a story about Ohio High school sophomore Kaitlyn Hughes ACL injury and her road to recovery.

OHIO — Late last January, the LaMoille/Ohio Lady Lions were in the midst of finishing a tough basketball season. The team had suffered injury after injury including concussions and bruised shoulders. While playing Henry on Jan. 22, the team’s sophomore, Kaitlyn Hughes, added a blown ACL to that list.

“I remember somebody made a basket, and I was getting back on defense; and then they made a pass, and I went to block the pass, and I jumped. I felt it right when I jumped. Then when I landed, I just fell. I remember looking at Coach (Richard Gross) while I was in the air, knowing that something was wrong. I felt my knee cap pop out of place, and then I remember screaming on the ground,” Hughes recalled.

From courtside it certainly seemed serious. Gross had a grave look on his face, saying after the game he thought for sure it was an ACL injury. Hughes collapsed to the floor in tears, and everyone gave her some space. Her mother, Dee Hughes, came out of the stands along with an assistant coach to assess the injury.

After being helped up, Hughes limped out into the hallway at the LaMoille School with the help of assistant coach Emily Leffelman.

“It didn’t hurt. I was running up and down the hallway. Then I went back in the game, Then my knee cap starting moving, and I got scared. That’s when I came out (for the rest of the game). So, I didn’t have pain, but I got light-headed after a while,” Hughes said.

That night, Hughes went to the hospital in Mendota. “They just thought my knee cap popped out. They didn’t think anything else was wrong.”

Hughes went to see an orthopedist in Peoria who’d treated her before for a shoulder injury.

“At Mendota, I was kind of scared. But the guy that did my knee surgery did my shoulder. I tore a tendon in my shoulder, and I thought I was going to need surgery, but I didn’t. He’s a really cool guy, and he made me feel comfortable,” Hughes said. “He explains everything to you. He tells you what’s going on, shows you on the monitor, and makes you feel so comfortable with what is going on. He explained the whole thing to me, told me it happens to people all the time. And he told me I was probably going to have to have surgery.

“I had the MRI, and then he knew for sure I needed surgery. My ACL was almost completely gone. There was only a little chunk of it left.”

About hearing she needed surgery, Hughes said, “I cried. I just started bawling. Then right away he was like, we can wait until spring break, so you don’t miss school. But, for sports — I’ve always played sports, so I told him I wanted (the surgery) right away so I can get back. He did his best and scheduled it right away.”

Not long after that visit Hughes went under the knife.

See Part 2 of this story in an upcoming edition of the BCR.

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