Puyallup: Sports

Douglas doesn’t let ACL tear get her down, cracks ER starting lineup

After an ACL tear took a year of basketball from Ayae Douglas (21), the senior is now back on track, starting for the Emerald Ridge girls basketball team.
After an ACL tear took a year of basketball from Ayae Douglas (21), the senior is now back on track, starting for the Emerald Ridge girls basketball team. Staff writer

Emerald Ridge High senior Anyae Douglas is starting for the girls basketball team, a predicament she didn’t believe she would be in just one year ago.

After going up for a layup at a tournament a few years ago in California with her club team, Douglas landed awkwardly, causing her to collapse on the court. That landing resulted in Douglas tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee, leaving her playing career in doubt.

“I didn’t know if I could play anymore once I injured it,” Douglas said. “I didn’t think I would get any (basketball) offers once that happened.”

Her junior season with Emerald Ridge went out the window as Douglas could only watch her teammates go out and play while she sat on the bench as a team manager.

“It means a lot after having two years of not being able to play to (now) be starting,” Douglas said. “(The injury) was devastating, though.”

But what a difference a year can make.

After a year of tireless work and effort, Douglas is back on the court starting for Emerald Ridge (1-2 overall entering play this week) with hopes of obtaining that offer she thought was gone forever.

“It was a lot of work to get back (but) my mom believed I could do it,” Douglas said. “It was real hard work to get back, but it paid off.”

And with her return, more responsibilities are being thrust upon the senior as she, Sunni Berbert, Brooke Peterson and Reganne Hoirup are the only senior leadership Emerald Ridge has on its roster. It’s a role Douglas is embracing.

“I have a great group of girls who will be there for me,” Douglas said. “I was manager last year ... but this year, I’m playing with them now.”

“She’s been a real big help as I try to get accustomed to with the team,” new Emerald Ridge coach Roland Sydney said. “She’s really embraced the leadership role on this team, and helps me whenever she can. She’s been invaluable for me to begin this season.”

Whenever there’s a new coach on the scene, it can sometimes be hard to find a connection with players right away. And it can be even more difficult when time is not on their side, like in Sydney’s case. The new coach took over the position just weeks ago.

“Not having an offseason or summer camps getting to know the girls is hard,” Sydney admitted. “They don’t know me or how I operate as a coach … with someone who can go between both myself and the players, that makes it easier to transition into the position.”

Now with Douglas back in action and working hard to get her team into the district tournament, she has the chance to obtain the goal she set out years ago: get a college offer to continue playing basketball at the next level.

And the looks are already coming her way; Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, is showing interest.

“I just want to work hard and get an offer,” Douglas said. “I’d like to start with a small school and then work my way to a Division-I program.”

If anything this past year’s demonstrated, it’s that Douglas is willing to put in the work to get to where she wants to go.