Sports Person of the Week
Diaz Happy to Have Healthy Junior Season
Miabella Diaz worked her way back from hip surgery to lead the Guilford girls’ basketball team as a junior captain during the 2021 winter season. (Photo courtesy of Miabella Diaz )
Miabella Diaz was experiencing a whirlwind of emotions as she began her junior season with the Guilford girls’ basketball team.
On the one hand, Miabella was excited when Head Coach Bernie Brennan announced that she would be one of the team’s captains for the season. However, Miabella was also coming off of surgery to repair a torn labrum in her hip in July and was unsure if she would even compete this winter.
“Honestly, my doctors did not know if I was going to be able to play, which was very nerve-racking, as you could assume,” Miabella says. “Throughout the months before the season and during, I was doing physical therapy three times a week trying to get prepared for the season.”
Miabella kept grinding her way through the physical therapy sessions in order to return the court this winter. When Guilford tipped off its season, Miabella was back in action for the Grizzlies at the point guard position.
“I was lucky enough to make it just in time to play,” says Miabella. “It was a challenge mentally and physically every time I got on to the court. I was worried that I would get hip checked or fall on it the wrong way. The whole season I played with screws in my hip, so it was definitely a challenge, however, I tried my best to not let it limit me. I couldn’t thank my coaches, teammates, and family enough for pushing me through this season and being by my side.”
Guilford had a trying campaign in which the team went through the regular season without getting a win, but that didn’t stop Miabella from keeping her teammates motivated heading into the SCC Division II Tournament. Guilford earned its first victory of the year by defeating the Hornets 40-28 in the opening round of SCCs. Miabella played a great game and came up clutch in the fourth quarter to help Coach Brennan’s team get the win.
“In our SCC playoff game versus Branford, Miabella scored 15 points and was key in the fourth quarter when Branford was trying to mount a comeback by making five out of six foul shots down the stretch to seal the victory,” Brennan says. “In our second-round SCC playoff game versus West Haven, she was our leading scorer with 14 points.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several of Guilford’s players decided to sit out the 2021 season, leaving the team shorthanded. Nevertheless, Miabella was proud to see the Grizzlies consistently compete to the best of their ability throughout the campaign.
“Every game and every practice was filled with sweat, but most importantly laughter,” says Miabella. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, some of the girls decided not to play, which left us with a small number of girls. However, we were able to really get to know one another and support each other. There were multiple injuries throughout the season, but I feel that it helped us and created a very loving community.”
While the season only finished up a few weeks ago, Miabella is already looking forward to competing alongside her teammates in her senior year.
“Next season, I hope it will be as normal as it can get, with more games and more players,” Miabella says. “The Guilford girls’ basketball team is becoming more of a family throughout the years and, next year, I hope to continue building on that mentality.”
Miabella’s ultimate goal as an athlete is to play basketball in college. Coach Brennan believes that his captain is well on her way to achieving that goal.
“Miabella wants to play basketball in college and is working extremely hard to make this a reality,” says Brennan. “She is committed to playing AAU basketball this spring and summer and, now that she is on the road to a full recovery from her hip surgery, she is working hard to build up her body and to keep improving her basketball skills.”
Miabella has a strenuous workout regimen, but she knows that effort will help her immensely in the long run. Hours before the sun comes up, Miabella is off and running in order to accomplish as much as possible.
“I play basketball year-round. I am constantly in the gym, whether it’s lifting weights, doing conditioning, or working on my shooting and ball handling. Over the past two years, I have really buckled in on my skills and started lifting to gain muscle,” Miabella says. “I wake up at 4:30 and hit the gym and spend an hour lifting. I feel that when starting the day nice and early, there is so much more you can accomplish. Although waking up in the morning can be a struggle, I always try and look into the final outcome and how accomplished I feel after my workouts. I am a very dedicated player on and off the courts.”