By MADDIE LEE Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
Kentucky Wesleyan College senior guard Erin Dorn has played in the Panthers’ past four basketball games with a completely torn left ACL.
Over those four games she has started three times, averaged 18 minutes per game and shot 50 percent from the field to score 6.8 points per game.
“She’s a tough nut,” co-head coach Nicole Nieman said. “She’s a great senior leader, she’s a captain for us, has been here for four years, just a great academic kid…. You just hate to see a kid like that tear her ACL her senior year.”
Dorn sustained the injury in the Panthers’ second game of the season against the University of Missouri-St. Louis at the Pops Duncan Classic in Nashville.
“I came down on it off a rebound with another girl,” Dorn said, “and she kind of landed on my leg as she came down. It hyper-extended, and it took my ACL with it.”
Immediately she felt intense pain. But after she got up, walked around, and even tested out running and cutting, Dorn eliminated the possibility of a torn ACL from her mind. She could not return in the second half.
Dorn said ex-rays showed bone bruising, which at the time she thought was the only damage done.
“If I didn’t have an MRI, I would have never known,” Dorn said.
Two days later, the Monday after her injury, Dorn got an MRI. The verdict was clear: torn ACL.
They made a plan for her to have surgery, and she started the per-surgery rehab. But Dorn knew that would likely wipe out her chances of playing her senior year.
She made an appointment for a second opinion with a surgeon she knew back home in Dayton, Ohio. She got in as early as they could see her, about three weeks after her injury.
“We thought for sure she was done,” co-head coach Caleb Nieman said. “And then typical Erin, she’ll just find a way to play. It’s just like her to do that. A lot of kids would be scared to death to even try it, and you wouldn’t blame them a bit.”
The doctor in Ohio performed several stress tests to confirm that Dorn’s knee was stable enough to play on, Dorn said. Then Dorn received clearance to play with a brace. There was no way she wasn’t going to take it.
“After the hyper-extension kind of pain went away I was never in any pain,” Dorn said. “So I felt perfectly fine. Like I said, if you didn’t tell me my ACL was torn, I would have been playing. So I was never really in pain, it’s my senior year, I wanted to be here for my team.”
When the brace finally arrived in Owensboro, there was no holding Dorn back.
“She’s been waiting for it,” Caleb Nieman said. “It’s like two days late. She’s itching, like let’s get this thing on. She gets it on, she goes right into a full-speed drill and goes just as hard as she ever did. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
If it weren’t for the brace, it would be hard to tell that Dorn sustained any type of injury to her knee, let alone an ACL tear. She moves around fine, without any sign of a limp unless she comes down on it wrong.
“Every now and then I’ll feel a step slow,” Dorn said. “But I think that’s just me getting used to the brace.”
What has effected her more, Dorn said, was sitting out.
“I’m still a little out of shape from being out for a month,” she said. “But I’m getting there.”
After season, should her knee show signs of giving or slipping, Dorn said, she might still have to get surgery. But if it’s still stable, she could get away with leaving it torn.
Four games back into playing, in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, Dorn is using her last season of eligibility to help KWC make history.
“I love these girls so much,” she said, “and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”