Pavlovich battles injury, returns to lead Eagles

Bethany Black, Sports writer

On Nov. 11, 2014, in the second basketball game of her freshman year at IVCC, Daniela Pavlovich suffered an injury that would challenge her both mentally and physically. Pavlovich had only played one game on the college level before she tore her ACL, which was the first serious injury she had ever suffered as an athlete.

“I tried to get up but I couldn’t get up and my leg just gave out,” said Pavlovich, “I looked down and my knee was super swollen already. I didn’t know what it was.”

She was unaware of the severity of the knee injury at the time, but once she got an MRI, the tear was explained to her and she was told recovery time would be between 9-12 months. Determined to get back on the court and prove herself a vital part of the team, she knew she would do anything it took to accelerate her recovery.

Pavlovich underwent her ACL reconstruction procedure on Jan. 22, 2015, over two months after the injury. Stuck in a brace that went from her thigh down to her ankle, Pavlovich struggled to find the motivation to come to school because of the cold weather and the discouraging lack of motion in her leg.

During one of her most difficult moments in therapy, she realized she was unable to move her leg the necessary amount to even pedal a stationary bike. When reminiscing on the moment, Pavlovich remembered wondering, “Am I ever going to be able to use my leg the same way?”

With the encouragement of her therapist, coaches, teammates and friends, she realized that everything would eventually get better if she kept working at it.

“It was a lot of mental stuff, and I just had to keep telling myself it would get better,” Pavlovich stated about her recovery.

Women’s basketball coach Tom Ptak realized how hard it was for her to sit the bench for the season, but he said that she remained a part of the team by attending practices and traveling to all the games.

“That was the hardest part — just letting time take it’s course,” said Pavlovich. “I’m such an anxious person, I can’t sit through stuff like that. I still to this day cannot believe I made it that long; sitting through all the games was so hard.”

Although sitting on the bench her freshman season was not her plan, she was able to recover in half the expected time, and after over four months, Pavlovich returned to the sport in time for summer practices.

Looking back on the challenge she faced, Coach Ptak saw Pavlovich mature as a player and step up as a team leader. After three seasons at IVCC, she now plays a large part in getting the team ready before games. Coach Ptak describes her as a competitive, feisty defensive player, and she has grown immensely on and off the court. Pavlovich also reached the 1000-point milestone this year.

“She’s definitely a team leader, and being the leading scorer, she’s someone we always look to when we need to score,” said Coach Ptak. “She’s probably our best three-point shooter on the team.”

Because her final basketball season as an Eagle is coming to a close, Pavlovich knows that it’s almost time to say goodbye to the program. She credits Coach Ptak with impacting her growth and maturity and teaching her life lessons on and off the court, and the teammates she has grown close to made her basketball career even more special.

“This year I turned 21 so when I walked into the locker room, all of them had confetti and they decorated the locker room for me,” said Pavlovich, “That’s one of my sentimental memories because it was so nice that they did that.”

Pavlovich is unsure of where she wants to transfer after IVCC, but she knows she wants to continue playing basketball, and looks forward to continue growing as a player in a different basketball program.

“I’ve grown so much and added so much to the program that leaving is going to be so tough,” said Pavlovich, “I’ve grown really close with everyone.”