By Jeremy McDonald
AMITY, Ore.– Ellie McMullen’s finally getting back into a groove with the Amity Girls Basketball team.
It’s been a long journey of recovery for the Warrior senior, but her mindset and determination has been that of a warrior looking back at it. Tearing her ACL in the 3A Consolation Semi-Finals last March in Coos Bay, McMullen has been sidelined. Recovering from the gruesome injury that had her miss her senior year of soccer with her Amity teammates and much of this current basketball season. It pained her not being out there with her teammates as the Warriors embarked on their current season that has them back to Coos Bay nearly a year after sustaining the injury. But through the pain, appreciation came from it with the squad preparing for their 3A State Quarterfinal game with Santiam Christian Thursday at North Bend High School.
“It helped me so much, going through what I went through and watching my team play, practice and do all the things I love to do without me was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. The emotional stress, the length of recovery really weighed on me and by the end I was telling my mom, ‘I’m done. I’m so ready to be done with this’,” starts McMullen. “When I finally got back to the game I was like, ‘wow. I remember why I love this so much’ and all of the pain was definitely worth it.”
Her first game back, January 31 against Dayton, was nearly not to be. The whole day was a rollercoaster McMullen described. That morning, her Physical Therapist said she was a no-go. A low with thoughts creeping into her mind if she’ll get to play this season, her senior season, and knowing it could be over for her. A surgeon said that she was cleared to play, turning that low into a high in a hurry as McMullen finally made her long awaited debut with her team.
“Me and my dad walked out of the surgeon’s office like in tears, we were so relieved. Our day had gone from the worst possible to a really good day. By the time the game actually came, my nerves and emotions were totally gone and I was just ready to play,” McMullen said. “I’m so glad being back with my team and having all of these experiences and going back to Coos Bay has been awesome. I’m so excited to be back there again with them. I’ve been so grateful to them for supporting me through all of this.
“Throughout this whole process they’ve been there for me, even when I wasn’t practicing, when I wasn’t playing. They always made me feel like I was part of the team even though I wasn’t playing with them. So when I got to play, it was like that missing piece of that puzzle and I’m so grateful for them.”
Tuesday was Amity’s last ‘official’ practice before they depart for Coos Bay Wednesday. One of the last bittersweet endings for McMullen with her teammates, the senior guard admits she’s having a hard time thinking about it on the heels of their last home game before state when they defeated Valley Catholic. Being from Amity, this is her home. She would come to the gym when her dad was coaching the boys and going to their practices. Just the time spent there growing up has meant so much to McMullen as the twilight of her High School career is here.
“Just the time I’ve spent here watching games and finally getting to play as a freshman…I’ve spent a lot of time in this gym and it’s really said to see that time come to an end. I’ve done a lot of growing here,” McMullen said.
But the job isn’t done yet. The goal of Coos Bay and that feel of playing at North Bend and Marshfield High School. It’s indescribable if you’ve ever watched, covered or played a game there. And now they are here, against a familiar foe in the Eagles, McMullen and her Amity teammates are hoping to grab another hard-fought win against Santiam Christian and make a push for the State Championship Game this Saturday.
“Coos Bay…they do it right there. It’s such a fun time, they really get all the teams into it and last year was just icing on the cake for us. We were just glad to be there and I think we really surprised a lot of people, but this year we’re there to win,” starts McMullen. “Of course we’re there to have fun and there’s not as much pressure if you actually get to Coos Bay, but we never entered a tournament that we didn’t intend on winning. We have grown a lot as a team and it’s not icing on the cake anymore, we’re there to win.”
The Warriors game with the Eagles is scheduled to start at 3:15pm at North Bend High School in Coos Bay,
Photos By Jeremy McDonald