My Name is Mikayla Vaughn and I am a sophomore on the Women’s Basketball team at Notre Dame. I fell down during practice my freshman year of college after defending a player only to find out that I had torn my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in my left knee. Your ACL is basically what keeps your knee place and stops it from caving in when running, cutting, etc. It took an excruciatingly long nine months before I was finally cleared for contact. I remember during the NCAA tournament that some of the photographers had taken pictures of the team and when he posted the photographs of me, the focus of the camera was on my scar. At the time, I felt very self-conscious because I didn’t want to be seen only for my scar and not for everything else that I had to offer. I started using skin creams so that it might help my scar look much less pronounced as time went on. During my nine month recovery process, I’ve learned how to be strong for my teammates and strong for myself. I’ve also learned what it was like to be handicapped for an extended period of time. It was an adjustment for sure, but I have a much greater appreciation for the difficulties that folks who are permanently handicapped have to go through. Many of the handicap doors on campus either didn’t work of there were none. I also found it interesting that though my limited capabilities were very much so visible to everyone, I received nearly non-existent help with opening doors, maneuvering the dining hall and many other tasks. It was difficult having to re-learn things that most people were just able to do such as walking, running, or even simple tasks like going to the bathroom or rising from bed, but it was humbling to have start from scratch with seemingly remedial assignments. Something else that I had to learn how to do was sit on the bench for an extended period of time. It was easy to cheer on my team and that’s how I contributed since I wasn’t able to physically. It was easy to find support because I was only one of four girls on the Women’s Basketball team who tore their ACL’s last year so nearly everywhere I looked I could talk to a teammate who was going through the same thing that I was. Surgery was for sure the most pain that I have ever endured in my entire life. The surgery itself was painless, but the following days were filled with throbbing bruises, burning sensations, and screams of agony. Despite the hardship that this injury has brought me, I am glad it’s finally over. I stopped using skin creams to try and hide my scar. If I didn’t have it, it would erase everything that I’ve gone through and, even though it was an extremely grueling experience, I’ve grown much stronger because of it and I can’t wait to play this season!