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Hirt optimistic, realistic following recent knee injury

Kayla Hirt is awaiting further tests to find out the extent of her knee injury. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

Kayla Hirt is an optimist but she also is a realist. And, after injuring her left knee two weeks ago at an AAU national basketball tournament in Georgia, Hirt was hit with a heavy dose of reality.

"I had the ball at the top of the key and drove down the lane," Hirt, who is entering her senior season at Bemidji High School, said. "A defender cut me off and I changed direction. But when I made my cut I slipped on something."

During the slip Hirt knew that something was wrong but initially she thought she would be able to play through it.

"The trainers gave me the 'go' to play but I kept thinking about my future and something inside of me told me to hold back," Hirt said.

"My future was a bigger deal than that game."

Hirt has verbally committed to play for the?University of Minnesota women's basketball team beginning in the 2011-12 season.

Her team trailed when Hirt was injured and ended up losing the game. Another contest was on the schedule for that night and Hirt thought she might be able to hit the court.

"I went through warm-ups but I was timid and I decided to sit," she said. "And the next day my knee was too sore to play on."

Last week Hirt had her knee examined by doctors at the University of Minnesota. The examination included analyzing an MRI and the doctors came to the conclusion that Hirt had a partial tear of her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The doctors were unable to determine how severe the tear actually is because of extensive swelling. That diagnosis will come Sept. 3 when they re-examine the injury.

If the tear is less than 50 percent it is possible that rest and rehabilitation would be the prescription and Hirt might be able to resume her athletic activities late in the volleyball season.

If the tear is greater than 50 percent, however, surgery probably would be recommended and rehabilitation could take a year.

Right now Hirt is biding her time waiting to return to the specialists.

"The doctors did give me the okay to work on the elliptical and the bicycle and I've been doing those," Hirt said. "I've also been lifting to maintain my upper body strength. I have to discipline myself to do not what I want to do but what I can do.

"And that is tough for me."

During her athletic career Hirt has experienced individual success as a member of the BHS volleyball and basketball teams which has led to team success. That success was expected to continue this year but, as of now, everything is on hold.

"My gut feeling about when I can play depends upon the day," Hirt said. "Two days ago after a workout my knee felt fine and I was optimistic. But the next day my knee was sore again. Really, I can't tell you what I think.

"I do know that this is going to take time and it's a road block I'll have to overcome," Hirt continued. "I'm trying to be strong about this but it is emotionally hard. Unless you've gone through something like this you don't know what it is like."

Hirt understands that nothing can be gained through negativity and that is why she has opted for a positive approach.

"I don't want people to feel sorry for me," Hirt said. "There are things I want to accomplish during my senior year but I believe things happen for a reason. In the long-run, I don't think this injury will hurt me. I've always wanted to push myself to the point where my muscles can't handle any more and maybe this injury is telling me it is time to slow down."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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