“Torn ACL,” — words every athlete fears.
When Ashley Knippen heard them in October, her senior year appeared to be over, at least in sporting terms.
So when Knippen trotted out to her spot in center field for the first inning of the Redskins’ season opener on Tuesday, most everyone agreed it was the best play of the game.
“You don’t see a girl coming back four and a half months from an ACL surgery, ready to play ball,” Wapakoneta varsity coach Bill Sammons said. “That was just all heart and determination on her part, along with (Wapak trainer) Robb Williams and his teaching techniques.
“How impressive is that? It’s amazing. And now she gets to make some memories.”
For the record, Knippen was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored in her return.
Knippen injured her knee in a powder puff fundraiser football game at Harmon Field in October. Soccer season had just ended and the all-league goalkeeper was looking forward to the upcoming basketball season and then her favorite sport, softball.
Most everyone agreed she was done for the year.
“I like proving people wrong,” Knippen said.
Doctors offered her a choice of surgeries to repair the injury. She opted for the more invasive, more painful option because it would give her a better chance of returning for softball.
For four and a half months she turned herself over to Williams and endured hours upon hours upon hours of painful rehab.
“It was a long shot,” Knippen said. “I would have to go through rehab perfectly. Robb did a great job with me.”
Knippen gave everyone who knew what she’d been through a scare in the third inning when she got caught in a lengthy rundown between second and third bases. Back-and-forth she cut and raced several times before finally being tagged out.
Knippen hopped up and trotted back to the dugout, none the worse for the wear.
“It felt good,” Knippen said.
“She got in that pickle and I was a little concerned,” Sammons said. “Ashley is Ashley. She is either all-out or nothing. So I know she’s going to give me everything she has.
“She’s just tickled pink to be out here. And I think the whole community is tickled pink to see her out here playing because she wants to compete and that’s what she’s worked hard for for the past five months. She’s worked her tail off with Robb Williams. Give credit to him to get her back on the field to let her play in her senior year.”
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