Every athletic competitor realizes that he or she will face obstacles in his or her quest to be the best. A debilitating ACL injury can derail success in any highly competitive sport and that injury can lead to loss of confidence.
Sophomore guard Nyre Harris knows firsthand how that much-needed confidence is diminished when an injury impedes any progress in accomplishing a personal goal.
After tearing an ACL her senior year of high school, Harris was forced to dedicate her freshman year to rehabilitating her injury instead of preparing herself mentally for the transitions of being a student-athlete at a Division One university.
“Last year was more of a learning experience for me,” Harris said. “I had to transition into a new school, new coach and a new style of playing while nursing my ACL. This year my goal is to be more vocal and put everything I have into it.”
Arizona head coach Niya Butts has been at Harris’ side since she set foot on campus.
“When Nyre came to Arizona, she was basically coming off a year where she didn’t play basketball at all,” Butts said. “Getting back on the court was tough for her, because she wasn’t moving the way she thought she should be and that plays with an athlete’s confidence.”
Through the process, Harris has looked to her coach for providing her with guidance. Harris praises Butts for not only being a basketball coach, but also a mentor.
“Coach Butts loves us as people,” Harris said. “She is always there for us no matter what, even if it doesn’t involve basketball. She not only cares about our academics, but also who we are outside of the gym.”
While recovering from her injury, Harris has not gotten down, or lost her desire for playing. Instead, she has maintained a positive outlook on the way her injury has changed her playing style.
“Mentally, I used to be very careful when I would jump,” Harris said. “Now I do different things on the court. I used to drive to the basket and now I would like to be more of a shooter. It changed the way I play. Now that I got my brace off, I’m not as scared to do the things I used to be very cautious of.”
Butts has seen a great amount of improvement in Harris as a player.
“I think she understands what it is she needs to do for the team and sees the game better than she did before her injury,” Butts said. “Before she was relying on her God-given quickness and athleticism in her game, but now she sees the court better as a point guard.”
Going into her first season as a fully recovered player, Harris is excited for the new culture, as well as the talent the new players will bring to the team.
“I’m most excited for the incoming players and how our team is going to transition without Davellyn Whyte,” Harris said. “Also, it’s going to be a new and different culture that we will be experiencing throughout the year.”
For Harris, it was never a question of if she was ever going to be able to play again, but when would her body and determination allow her to compete again. This season, she intends to show a new and improved player.
“Her first year, it was tough for her, trying to get back to the player she wanted to be,” Butts said. “But this summer she has looked great. She is moving well, she got her brace off and we have been really pleased with her improvement.”