During her pre-surgical appointment with Dr. Michael Joyce last week, the man who would repair her twice-injured right knee, Gabby Williams received the best possible reassurance for someone who wants to be an elite women’s basketball player.
“Dr. Joyce was showing us pictures of all the ACL surgeries [the athletes] he had performed, like Sue Bird’s,” Williams said Saturday. “It was pretty reassuring, to say the least.”
Williams, an All-American guard from Reed High in Sparks, Nev., knew she was in great experienced hands.
And Sunday, just three days after her surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Williams, a member of UConn’s four-player freshman Class of 2014, will be in attendance when No. 1 UConn plays No. 4 Lousiville at Gampel Pavilion.
Williams, who orignally injured her right knee in January 2013, re-injured during a game on Jan. 21. She says she initially did not believe there was anything wrong and played in two more games after it happened.
“All I can do right now is take one day at time,” Williams said. “There’s no sense going back in time. All I can do is look forward.
“I honestly didn’t think I was badly injured. I was thinking back to how I felt last year. In comparison, I didn’t feel [pain]. I was walking, practicing [and playing]. I was thinking, ‘There is no way there is anything wrong with me.’ Last year, I couldn’t even walk for two weeks after I injured it. It hurt way worse. This time, the swelling went down right away. So I didn’t expect anything [from the tests]. I just could not believe it.”
Once the diagnosis was made, so was the decision to come to Connecticut for surgery.
“It wasn’t a hard decision,” Williams said. “I am a part of them [the UConn program] now. I’m going to rehab this with them, so I might as well have their doctors do [the surgery].”
Williams said she is feeling well and enthusiastic about participating in a rehabilitation process that wastes no time.
“I actually feel a lot better than I did last year after surgery,” she said. “I guess I didn’t react to the anesthesia very well and I remember being someone nauseous. But this time, I was able to eat the day of surgery and I’ve been moving around somewhat.
“It was clear right away that Dr. Joyce’s approach was based on starting things [the rehabilitation] right away. Last year, it was three or four days [after surgery] that I was out of my brace. This time, I was out of it the first day. That was very nice.
“I did leg lifts and it hurt bad. But now the pain isn’t as bad. … This time we’re going to try to work off the crutches and brace as soon as I am comfortable.
When she returns to Nevada to continue her rehab, she will do with detailed instructions from Joyce that will carry her until she returns to campus for summer school.
Obviously, her high school basketball and track and field careers are done. Williams was selected to play in the McDonald’s All American Game in April is an Olympic-level high jumper.
“We haven’t talked much yet about a period of time. It’s still too early to tell,” Williams said. “I think I will be able to play next season. There is still a long time before the first game.”