I guess you could say basketball is in my blood.
From an early age, I just remember everyone constantly dribbling a basketball. Whether it was my dad who played professionally for many years, to my mother and brother who played for the Swedish National team, it seems like basketball has always been a family sport.
Even though basketball was always around, my family never really pushed me to pick up the game.
I actually tried all sorts of sports, but in the end, I always kept coming back to basketball. Something about the fact that I could always work out with my parents or my brother gave the game a family feeling that I didn’t find anywhere else.
When I was 15 years old, I started to take on a different level of focus with basketball.
I moved to the city of Södertälje, which was a few hours from my hometown in Sweden, and I joined a club team called Södertälje Basketball Club (SBBK). T
his was the first step towards reaching my goal of playing at the next level. SBBK was a prestigious club in Sweden and it would give me the opportunity to compete at a high level.
Just like elite AAU teams here in the USA, these club teams focus on developing youth players to be able to play at a high level and at the same time getting recognized and recruited by college and universities in America. At SBBK I was fortunate to be trained by some of the best coaches in Sweden.
After my move to Södertälje things started to pay off. I had always dreamed of playing in the United States since my family has so many ties here, so I was really excited when schools started to take notice.
My uncle, cousin, and brother in law are all head coaches at universities in the United States. I guess you could say basketball is somewhat of a family tradition.
After visiting a number of schools, I decided to continue my basketball career across the Atlantic. And I couldn’t wait to get started!
During the recruiting process, one school stood out above the others – Virginia Tech.
Like many of the top programs, the facilities and having the opportunity to play in the ACC were amazing. But what really drew me to Virginia Tech was the family atmosphere surrounding the basketball program.
The players, coaching staff and Hokie Nation made me feel at home from day one! For anyone that hasn’t been on campus, it’s difficult to put these feelings into words.
Not only was my visit to VT special, but I felt a real connection with Coach Wolff when he visited with me and my family in Sweden.
So as I headed off to Blacksburg for my first year, I had nothing but high expectations for myself.
Of course, I was nervous, but once we got the season started I began to relax with lots of help from my teammates and coaching staff. I got off to a good start playing some of the best basketball of my life along with breaking a few freshman program records.
I thought the sky was the limit but my body had other plans… An old injury returned and I was only able to participate in five games my freshman season.
The calf muscle in my right leg was causing extreme pain and I lost all power and feelings in my leg as the season progressed. I had similar problems the year before in Sweden and had a popliteal artery release in the back of my right leg.
I had thought my rehab went well and I was ready to play again. But as we neared the start of my freshman season the pain in my calf intensified daily, clearly something wasn’t right.
The medical staff decided to test my calf for compartment syndrome. The results showed a significant amount of pressure in my right calf. Soon after the testing, I was scheduled for my operation.
As fast as that season started, I realized I’d be spending the remainder of my freshman year rehabbing in the training room.
Honestly, as painful as the injury was, I think going through the process of being sidelined for a whole year was much worse. With a broken bone or a torn ligament, you often receive a concrete recovery date and a step by step plan. All I knew was I had a long road ahead front of me to be able to play the game I love again.
But I wasn’t going to let my injury stop me!
After the operation, I couldn’t wait to get started with my rehab. I would do whatever it took to get back on the court again.
From doing exercises on my own to pushing myself to the limit in every training session, I was determined to push myself to get back on the court with my teammates as soon as possible.
Finally getting back to team workouts after countless hours of help and support from our great medical staff and athletic trainers, I had to learn to play through pain. At first, I felt limited in my abilities, often second guessing myself or playing tentative, but I just tried to help the team any way possible.
Overall, the biggest lesson I learned was that the pain in my leg will always be constant and I have the ability to push through it. It takes a lot of determination both mentally and physically to active this. When I finally accepted that things would be different, often playing with some pain, my game made the jump I had been hoping for since my freshman year.
Things might not always go your way or exactly how you planned, but if you keep working hard to achieve your goals, you will always know success!
Regan Magarity | Contributor