Whenever a Timberland basketball player feels like hanging their head, or throwing in the towel after a poor practice, or game all they need to do is look to Grace Langston for motivation and inspiration to keep going this season.
Langston has been through that and a ton more in the past two years.
Langston, a forward for Timberland, has returned to the court to play for the Wolves after not just one, but two devasting ACL knee injuries that short-circuited her freshman and sophomore years.
The junior post is not only back on the court but has seen action in the Wolves first six games so far this winter and her return has been a huge lift for the club.
“It’s just a tribute to the kid she is,” Timberland coach Emily Eberhardt said. “I guarantee nine out of ten kids would have said that’s good after two of the same injury but she didn’t care and it never even fazed her and I’m always excited to see her play. You hold your breath because of obvious reasons worrying about injury but she didn’t miss a beat.”
Being back on the court this winter is literally the best feeling Langston could have after being away from the game she has loved since she was a youngster.
“Being able to play again has been really amazing, especially after having to sit out all of last year and part of the year before,” Langston said. “I’m just really glad that I can participate and that I’m not held back by anything.”
Two years ago, early in her freshman season, Langston suffered a serious tear in her left anterior cruciate ligament, which ended her season prematurely and after surgery on the knee, she went through five grueling months of physical therapy.
Last year, Langston was cleared by doctors to play her sophomore season and she made the Timberland varsity team.
Her hopes and plans for a fulfilling season as a role-player were ruined by an injury to her right anterior cruciate ligament just before the start of the season.
It was almost too much for Langston to bear, as she went through another surgery and another arduous five-month round of physical therapy.
“I think the toughest part of the rehab process was the mental part and every day was a struggle trying to go to rehab and work for two hours trying to make yourself stronger and try to overcome internal fears and definitely overcoming it (the injury) mentally was the hardest part,” Langston said.
Langston completed her rehab both times at Athletico Physical Therapy in Wentzville. Langston’s Physical Therapist, Farren Holman said that after her surgery, the physical therapy for Langston focused on range of motion exercises, lower extremity work, and focus on hip strength to allow her to be successful on basketball the court again.
Holman emphasized it was Langston’s determined and “never quit” mindset that allowed her to power through both her rehabs and allow her to be back working out with her teammates this season.
“Grace had the mindset from day one to get back on the basketball court and having that goal in mind made our job at Athletico so much easier,” Holman said. “She was really focused on her goal of getting back on the court.”
Langston said that the support that she received from her family and teammates and coaches through the surgerys and the rehab periods was constant and comforting.
“They supported me the entire times through both surgeries,” Langston said. “After my surgery both times, they would check up on me and constantly encourage me to get through it so I could get back.”
A big night awaits Langston on Friday (Dec. 16), as she will be in the starting lineup when Timberland faces arch rival Holt at home. It will be her first game against the Indians, and a great evening is expected regardless of the outcome of the game.
“I think as far our team (goes) they will really appreciate it because of what she’s been through,” Eberhardt said.
For Langston, nothing is better than being able to play with her Wolves teammates and help her club win some games. She has plenty of blessings to count in this holiday season.
“I feel so amazing being able to play again,” Langston said. “It’s just great knowing that since I worked so hard during my rehab process that when I don’t have to think about hurting myself again when I dive for a ball, take a shot or make a pass.”