Co-Captain Rachna Lewis ’19 tore her A.C.L. and both of her menisci trying to catch a pass during a game last February. After undergoing surgery on both of her knees in June, she was just cleared to participate in light basketball activities in December, though she cannot yet play in games or participate in contact drills with Andover Girls Basketball. According to Lewis, she found it difficult to cope with the injury soon after it happened.
“I’ve played basketball since I was five years old and knowing that this was one of my last seasons… on a team like this and playing in games like [Andover/Exeter], it was a lot to take in at first, having to go to practices and be on the sidelines,” said Lewis.
Despite her serious knee injuries, Lewis says that she has taken on an important leadership role for the team.
Lewis said, “I remember the first day I got called out for being an ‘assistant coach,’ because it was the third practice of our season and I obviously couldn’t play. But I came to every practice. I watched all the drills and saw what I could learn from them. I told my coach to the side that I had a little comment… and she goes, ‘Guys, Coach Lewis has some advice for you all,’ and everyone turned and started laughing and for the rest of that day everyone called me Coach Lewis.”
Because she watches a lot of practices and games from the sideline, Lewis is able to observe and pinpoint areas that are in need of improvement, according to teammate Brooklyn Wirt ’21 and Head Coach Elizabeth Monroe.
“She’s always pushing us to work harder and to be more careful about the little things and to pay attention to detail. She’s a very big fan about going back to the basics. If we are struggling in a game, she always reminds us that we need to box out or that we need to work to find a good shot and to do pass fakes and things like that,” said Wirt.
Monroe added, “Rachna has started to see the game in a different way, having to watch more than play. She’s able to point things out to the girls in constructive ways, so I think it’s actually been a good thing in many ways.”
Though she hasn’t been able to play, Lewis’s experience and positive attitude have been valuable assets to the team this year, according to Wirt.
“Nobody else has been with Andover Basketball as long as she has… She is a huge presence on the bench. Every time somebody scores, she jumps up and is screaming for them. She’s always a big part of the game and is paying attention and telling us what we can work on and do better,” added Wirt.
According to Monroe, Lewis and fellow Co-Captain Cassidy Musco ’19 have complemented each other well so far this season.
“Cassidy can be the leader on the court while Rachna is sort of leading behind the scenes. They are really on the same page about what they want from the team and how to support the girls, and and how to communicate with me and the other coaches,” said Monroe.
Musco added, “I can be out there on the court when we are playing while Rachna is always on the sidelines picking up things that I don’t see. She really gives good insight, she’s been on the team for four years, she knows every team that we play, and really knows the game well.”
According to Lewis, she tries to provide support for all of her teammates, and new teammates in particular.
“I know how it felt to be in a game and maybe mess up or make a mistake and just be down on myself for that. I didn’t want any of the girls, especially the new girls, to do that to themselves. I made it a point to reach out to them and say like, ‘You guys are doing great, these are the things you were doing really well. Yes, you can work on this, but don’t beat yourself up over it,’” said Lewis.
Lewis hopes to return to play in February, and she currently has one main goal motivating her to fully recover.
“My end goal is honestly just to play in [Andover/Exeter]. I told [Coach Monroe] this, and that all I want to do is to play in this last [Andover/Exeter] game. So that’s what I am training for right now.”