When watching the Indiana Fever’s Shyra Ely on the court, fans might never guess she’d just recovered from a season-ending injury the year before.
A ruptured patella tendon had Ely off the Chicago Sky roster and on the operating table for the end of 2010 and into 2011. While blog entries and Tweets gave fans insight into the pain and fear throughout Ely’s recovery, she won’t shy away from saying that her kneecap injury was a blessing.
“I’m very firm in my faith. I believe everything happens for a reason,” Ely said. “While at the time my injury seemed like one of the worst things that could happen, I found that it’s probably one of the best things that could ever happen. It renewed my love for the game after being away from it for a year.”
Ely’s smooth recovery was made possible by her dedication to rehab.
“This is an injury not many people come back from. Thankfully I was a young person coming back,” she said. “As an athlete and a competitor, you never want to go out on someone else’s terms. I just stayed in the gym all year to make sure I was ready to come back.”
In the aftermath of her time playing in Turkey, her first time back on the court since her injury, the Fever announced the free agent signing of Ely to a training camp contract. The contract came as a personal success to the Ben Davis grad.
“Had I not been injured I still might be playing for Chicago,” Ely said. “My injury afforded me the opportunity to play at home in front of my family and friends. I’m blessed that it all worked out.”
Though Ely has averaged about 8.7 minutes per game and an average of 1.8 rebounds, Ely said her goal is to hold her own when and where she is needed.
“Wherever I’m useful, that’s where they need me,” Ely said. “I’m thankful I’m able to contribute. That’s really just my goal – to come in and be productive on the court.”
When it comes to Ely’s position, forward Tamika Catchings said Ely can do it all.
“She brings a different type of style to the game,” Catchings said. “She has those young legs and just getting in there, being aggressive, creating opportunities, making things happen on defense. She makes people play on their tiptoes like they don’t know what she’s going to do. I look at her to continue getting better.”
Ely said that she sees good things happening in the remainder of the Fever season.
“This is definitely a championship-contending team,” she said. “I’m really hopeful and optimistic for the season and I’m hoping to play in October.”
Through her optimism and experiences this past year, Ely said that for other young athletes that may experience injury, you have to remain positive.
“I’m firm in my faith and I would say to trust God,” she said. “You never know what’s around corner, and recovery is 10 times harder when you’re down. It’s part of sport, it can happen to anybody. Train accordingly, give it your all and stay in it. “