BOULDER — The Jefferson boys basketball team is much healthier than it was last year.
Both Bryce Harrington and Avery Stiles suffered devastating injuries to their right knee during the 2017 football season – Harrington a dislocated knee, and Stiles a torn ACL and meniscus. Stiles missed the whole basketball season, while Harrington was able to play but not at 100 percent.
“It definitely affected just about every aspect of how I played. Just having to rebuild every muscle in your leg, all the atrophy I suffered. My mind knew what I needed to do but with all the new muscles and building it up, I was down a leg for a little bit.”
Both Harrington and Stiles vigorously attacked their rehab, oftentimes together. More than a year removed from the initial injuries, they have confidence in their knees again.
“I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with it and trusted it a lot more. I don’t wear my brace anymore during basketball, only when it hurts. I feel a lot more comfortable with it.”
Being away from the basketball court and nearly having the game taken away have given the pair a greater appreciation for the sport. It also pushed them to work harder in the gym and strengthen the muscles in the area of the injury.
“I definitely took it for granted when I was younger. I make sure to practice as hard as I can everyday, because it could be my last practice,” Stiles said. “I feel like I’m actually a lot stronger than before. I lifted a lot harder during rehab and currently, and I feel like I can jump a lot higher and I’m a lot more explosive off the ball.”
“I know last year I definitely was sitting there, especially October, sitting there, I’ve got to be able to play. This is a struggle. Now looking back, I just have a whole new perspective,” Harrington said. “Giving it 100 percent every night. Realizing at one point I could barely walk, here I am now 7 steps ahead of what I thought I would even be.”