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Lepro Overcomes Injury to Have Solid Sophomore Season
Sophomore guard Ava Lepro overcame a dislocated elbow to have a quality campaign for the Guilford girls’ basketball squad, proving a pest for the opposition on defense. (Photo courtesy of Ava Lepro )
After suffering an injury, Ava Lepro felt some trepidation entering the 2021 campaign with the Guilford girls’ basketball team. However, Ava pushed past her fears, made a complete recovery, and went on to have a solid sophomore season for the Grizzlies.
Ava had dislocated her right elbow three months prior to the start of the season and was fearful that she would re-injure herself when the games began. Ava persevered through three grueling months of physical therapy to get ready for the basketball season, and the sophomore guard ultimately proved one of Guilford’s best players. Ava feels that overcoming her injury was a major stepping stone as she continues through her high school career.
“I dislocated my elbow and couldn’t play basketball or any sports for three months. Right when basketball season started, I was starting to play sports again,” Ava says. “This was a challenge for me mentally and physically. In the back of my mind, I would have a constant fear that my elbow was going to pop out again. And physically, coming back after three months was very challenging. I couldn’t straighten or bend my arm for a while, so I had to be patient with myself and give myself time to get back to normal.”
Ava’s patience played a key role in her recovery, and she gained a newfound confidence as a result of successfully navigating that long road. Once she started feeling comfortable in games, Ava dominated on the defensive end of the floor for the Grizzlies, oftentimes locking down the opposing team’s top scorer.
Ava wasn’t the only one her team who got bit by the injury bug this year. Ava felt proud to see other members of the Grizzlies step up if one of their teammates went down.
“Going into this season with this injury taught me to overcome my fears. My teammates also overcame many fears having to do with injuries,” says Ava. “Unfortunately, my teammates suffered a lot of injuries this year. All of these injuries encouraged everyone on the team to step up and have each other’s backs. It truly felt like a team, knowing that when someone got hurt, someone else was ready to rise to the occasion and get the job done.”
Guilford didn’t win a game during the regular season, but the team stayed strong through the tough times and went on to notch a 40-28 victory versus Branford in the first round of the SCC Division II Tournament. In that game, Ava defended Lauren Kendrick and held her scoreless after the Hornets’ junior had scored 20 points in Branford’s regular-season win versus Guilford a few weeks earlier.
Head Coach Bernie Brennan was impressed with Ava’s performance in that contest. Brennan compared Ava’s efforts the likes of all-time NBA great Dennis Rodman.
“Dennis Rodman used to get two points a game with 20 rebounds and played amazing defense. Ava is that kind a player,” Brennan says. “She always guards the toughest player on the other team, goes after every loose ball, and plays with heart and guts. These types of players don’t often get recognized in the scorebook, but are valuable to the success of any team. She also has a tremendous work ethic and gives 100 percent effort in everything she does. I expect to hear great things about her both in soccer and basketball next year.”
Even if Ava is having an off night offensively, she knows that she can count on her teammates to lift her spirits. Ava was pleased to see the Grizzlies become a tight-knit unit as the recent season progressed.
“My favorite aspect of basketball is the team aspect. Whenever you’re on the court, you are never alone. You have four other people who have your back and even more on the bench,” says Ava. “I enjoyed my team getting closer as the season went on. I noticed that the more we played like a team, the more successful we were. Every point someone scored was because of a team effort. We learned playing individually is a lot harder than playing as a team.”
Although Guilford only won one game this year, Ava expects the Grizzlies to bounce back and have a much-better season next winter. Ava knows that she needs to give it her all in order to help the team turn things around, and she plans on dedicating a great deal of energy to improving her game throughout the offseason.
“I work hard to get better and improve my game. In order to get better, that means giving 100 percent all the time. The most important thing is effort. When you try your very hardest, good things will happen. It is crucial to push yourself at practice, because that’s what shows up in the game. In my eyes, the harder you work, the better you get. Pushing yourself will always improve your game,” Ava says. “I know next season is going to be a strong season for us. Lots of people couldn’t play this year because of COVID, causing us to have low numbers. When these players come back next year, Guilford girls’ basketball will be a force.”