Thursday, October 2, 2014

Resilient Church Excited for Next Chapter at Lasell

The basketball journey of Morgan Church has been a roller coaster ride. Coming up through the youth ranks she was on of the top players in her class, and started for Kearsarge as a freshman. Sophomore year Church (New London, NH) led Kearsarge to the Division II Final Four, despite them being one of the smallest schools in the division. Church led Kearsarge to win over Windham in the semi-finals, but during the final two minutes of the game she tore her ACL and that spring she underwent knee surgery.

It was a long road to recovery with lots of rehab and physical therapy, but Church worked hard to battle back and persevere in order to get back on the court. She returned to action the following January, for her new school Proctor Academy. Not only was Church able to come back from the torn ACL injury, but she was able to return and play well enough to continue her career at the collegiate level.

Church is now attending Lasell College, just outside of Boston in Newton, MA. Lasell is a Division III program that competes in the GNAC.

"So far I have absolutely loved my time at Lasell" Church told the NH Notebook. "From an academic standpoint its been wonderful and everything that I could hope for. "I am absolutely stoked to get deeper into the Athletic Training program which, in my opinion, is Lasell's best and most challenging. From a basketball standpoint things are going just as well. We began open gyms the very first week of school and right off the bat everyone was extremely welcoming and open and ready to get this season started. We also have begun strength and conditioning that we do twice a week and intertwine with our open gyms that we have 4 or 5 days a week. Our new coach Todd Montana has also been great so far. Unfortunately interaction has been slightly limited due to the fact he's not permitted at open gyms and such, but we've already had a team dinner at his house and he has constantly expressed how excited he is to be coaching us this year!"

Church is an example of how even if a youth athlete suffers a devastating injury, with perseverance and determination they can still achieve the goals.

"When they tell you its a two year recovery you really don't believe them, until the second year comes around and your just beginning to feel like yourself again" explained Church, a 5-foot-7 point guard. "Everyone recovers at different paces and that was really hard for me to understand, especially when I heard stories of girls who came back full force in a much quicker amount of time. It became really discouraging, especially knowing what level of play I should be at and the potential that I had. Hard work and patience were the two main things that attributed to me overcoming tearing my ACL. Even to this day I'm dealing with frustrations in my play, which is really just a reflection of my physical capabilities, or lack there of. Again, I am finally feeling like I'm getting back to my old self, but I am still going to have to continue to work my butt off to get to the level that I know I am capable of playing at. Even though its been quite the journey, coming out of it, it makes me extremely excited to actually feel like I'm going to get to that level I know I am capable of being at, that it is actually possible, and that I'm finally physically able to start making those strides towards that goal."

As a result of Church's injury and rehab, she is looking to pursue a career in athletic training. She's looking forward to her studies as well as reaching her potential on the court at Lasell.

"To be honest, academics was the main driver for picking my school" Church pointed out. "With all the schools that I applied to, Lasell was the only D-III school, therefore the only school I would be able to play basketball as well as handle the academic load of being an Athletic Training major. When it came down to it, basketball was something I wasn't ready to let go of. I felt that I was unable to really meet my full potential with my high school career, and I was not about to just leave that alone. In the end I knew basketball was something I wanted and in some way needed. It just worked out really well that Lasell just so happened to be an excellent fit for me academically too. You also can't beat having the opportunity for parents and other family members to make a few games. My family is a huge support system for me and I feel like it wouldn't be the same if I didn't continue to closely share this journey with them."

The roller coaster ride continued for Church even after her commitment to Lasell, when the coach who recruited her (Carla Flaherty) left to take a different job in July.

"I remember the day she called me and dropped the huge bomb that she was taking a new coaching position at Roanoke College" concluded Church. "She did indeed ask me to take a look at the school, which was a lot to take in, considering that the phone call came 3 or 4 weeks before Roanoke started for the year. There was a lot of debate going on in my head on what to do because I truly did get a great impression from her and was excited to play for her, as well as a great impression of the school. But, ultimately there were just too many factors that were keeping me at Lasell. One being I was sick for almost all of the summer which resulted in me getting my tonsils surgically removed the same week as Roanoke's move in day, but also Lasell just had too many opportunities for me to ignore. I like the idea of being far enough away that I was on my own, but close enough that I could come home when I needed to. I loved the idea of my family being able to catch a fair share of games. And, I really believed that Lasell was going to be a place where was going to truly achieve and accomplish a lot for myself. In the end I know I made the right decision and Coach Montana is a great coach with lots of experience and wins under his belt from his previous coaching days. I am really excited to play for him and see what he, myself, and the rest of the team are going to be able to accomplish not only this year, but for all of my four years here at Lasell."

Whatever lies ahead over the next four years for Church, you can bet she'll have a positive attitude and give it her all - both on and off the court.

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