December 8th – A date that never escapes Maddy Baier’s mind, and a date she probably will never forget.
It was Dec. 8, 2013, and Cal State-Fullerton was in town when Baier checked in for senior Hallie Christofferson.
“I’ll never forget, I beat my girl down the court and I was going right down the left side of the lane and Nikki [Moody] saw me and passed me the ball,” Baier said. “I just jump stopped and right when I stopped to jump I felt my knee buckle and I just threw the ball up. I remember leaning against the post watching everybody run down.”
At first she thought she tore her LCL, which would have left her out a few weeks. The next day she got the news she didn’t expect.
“I remember watching Dr. (Tom) Greenwald read the MRI and seeing his face. I knew what he was going to tell me by the look on his face and I just busted into tears,” Baier said.
The news was a torn ACL in her right knee, one that would require surgery and she would have to sit out for six months, ending her sophomore season.
After the initial shock, the always positive Baier knew it was time to face this head on.
Dec. 18, 2013. That’s the other date she won’t soon forget – the day of her surgery.
For Baier, it wasn’t surgery that was difficult; it was the long road to recovery, a road that really only started on Dec. 18.
“After I had my surgery it was hard to do the smallest thing,” Baier said. “I would think ‘I’m never going to get back. This is going to take forever,’ but I would say the rehab right after surgery was easily the hardest.”
With little muscle mass left in her leg, rehab was long and arduous. As with most season-ending injuries, it isn’t always the physical hurdles, but the emotional hurdles that are difficult during recovery.
Having to sit on the sideline while the team continued to play was one of the most difficult parts of rehab for Baier.
“Hallie was playing 40 minutes and I know she was tired,” Baier said. “That’s my job— to give her a break—and I know she was tired. We were short on post as it is. I would just think ‘That’s my job, to give her that break so she can come back in and be fresh.”
“I think the hardest thing was sitting out and thinking ‘If I had never done this I could have helped.’”
But Baier’s strong support system didn’t allow her to think like that for long. She was surrounded by encouragers, everyone from her teammates and coaches to the training staff and her family.
She noted teammate and roommate Kidd Blaskowsky was one of her biggest cheerleaders and always there to offer words of encouragement.
Over the last six months, Baier dutifully continued her rehabilitation, remaining positive and looking forward for the day she can rejoin her teammates on the floor.
During her road to recovery, it wasn’t just the big things – like playing basketball – that she relished, but even little things like getting her ankles taped and warming up on the court with the team. She knew it was going to be a good day when she could step back out onto the court again.
That day finally came last week.
A big smile erupted across Baier’s face as she talked about what it was like to work out with the team. Though she isn’t completely finished with her recovery, the finish line is just around the corner and you better be sure she is going to cross it.