By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Stillwater High School senior Callie Atkins went down last week, members of the Lady Pioneers’ coaching staff held their breath.
For coach Carl Treat, Atkins injury has been all too familiar sight for his team this season.
“Girls basketball has become a battle of attrition in a lot of ways because females are more susceptible to ACL injuries,” Treat said. “With Blake (Bulard) we’ve got five ACL injuries on the team. Its just part of it. We’ve also had a lot of concussions in the last few years because of the physical nature of the game.”
Treat feared the worst when Atkins — who has a history of knee problems — went down. It turned out that Atkins’ injury was not as serious and while she was seen in a walking boot Saturday, Treat expects her to make a return later this season.
The same cannot be said for senior Blake Bulard, however.
Bulard’s final season in a Lady Pioneer uniform came to an end before it got started, when she tore her ACL in one of Stillwater’s first games of the season.
“You hate it for her,” Treat said. “Everybody always looks forward to their senior season and to have it end so quickly for her, it just breaks you’re heart. I know talking to her that she had a lot of things she wanted to accomplish and know she knows that she won’t ever get those opportunities.”
She may not be able to help her team out on the court, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a part of the team. Because of the injury Bulard has become another set of eyes for Treat — acting more as an assistant coach than a player.
“It’s great,” Treat said. “Blake has basically moved into the role of an assistant coach for us. She’s helped a lot with our scouting and motivation. She sees things from a player’s perspective and now she’s starting to get our view of it.
“When you get hurt like that you can either pout or you can figure out ways to help the team. She has been very instrumental in helping our team. I’m very proud of the mature attitude that she’s taken with it and she’s doing a really good job. I still hate it for her because she is a really good player and would help us. But for her to have the ability to show up and work and help us in practice in ways that are different than what she had planned, it speaks to her maturity and how much she really loves this team.”
The injuries to Bulard, Atkins and junior Halley Randolph may have taken away some experience from the Lady Pioneers, but it’s also opened doors for players like sophomore Lauren Stettnisch to step into bigger roles.
And if it’s one thing that Treat isn’t concerned about, it’s depth on his team.
“We talked about it early on that we’ve got the most girls out that we ever had,” Treat said. “We knew going in that we had a lot of depth. We’ve absorbed those injuries. Halley is out with an injury, Blake is out for the season and now Callie is out. That’s three girls that draw quite a bit of varsity time. But we’re still able to function and follow our schemes and be competitive. That speaks to the depth and hard work the girls are showing us.”
Over the course of the next two months, Treat knows that there’s going to be more injuries that come and go. He’s hoping that the experience his team is getting early in the season will pay off not only at the end of the season but in the season’s to come, as well.
“It just feels good when we’re able to win, no matter who is on the floor for us,” Treat said. “It shows the effort that the girls are given and the ability that they have. We thought early on that we have a good team and they’re starting to play like it.”