Healing, Divsion I-style

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and came up with plenty of New Year's resolutions. Of all the resolutions I could have given myself, I decided my only goal was to keep myself healthy in 2011. Staying healthy is something I've struggled with throughout my college career, but I vow to change that streak in 2011. First of all, let me say that I have not had common injuries. Sure, I've had my fair share of sprained ankles and bruised knees but I've also had a stint with kidney stones, multiple episodes of stitches to the face, and concussions (I actually just got five stitches above my eye after diving on the floor during the UCLA game). I throw my body around on the court and, as a result, well, the doctors know more about me than just my name.

Speaking of staying healthy, my team has done just the opposite of that this year. After a few days off for Christmas break, we dove into Pac-10 action by taking on UCLA at home. We had nine available, healthy bodies for that game and only seven players played more than two minutes. On a roster that includes 12 players, playing with only seven means we have faced more than our share of injuries. Injuries are a part of the game. Every team has them and every team battles through them at some point. It just so happens that my team is going through it this year and it has definitely impacted multiple aspects of our games.

Being injured in college is so much different than being injured in high school. In college, injuries require hours and hours of rehab and weight-lifting sessions designed to strengthen whatever is injured. When I sprained my ankles, I would spend about two hours a day in rehab doing ultrasounds, different types of massages and then tons of various exercises. My personal favorite rehab exercise is the trainer massage -- basically when my trainer spends a good ten minutes rubbing out what is sore. Yeah, yeah I know… poor me.

But, in all honesty, injuries are no fun. As hard as it is to come back from injuries, it can be just as hard to watch my teammates go through them. One of my teammates had hip surgery at the beginning of the year and has spent every day for the last three-plus months trying to get healthy. As hard as I have worked to get to the level of performance I'm at right now, she has worked just as hard at getting her hip healthy. She is at every practice, every film session, every weight session and then when I get to go home after practice and rest, she is in the training room working as hard as she can. When injuries like this happen, I can't help but want my teammates to come back and be more successful than anyone thought they could be. Hard work and dedication are definitely traits I admire in all of my teammates.

As much as injured bodies has hurt us in games, having limited healthy bodies also hurts us in practice. Going four on four in practice doesn't exactly simulate live Pac-10 action and we all get pretty tired of going against each other. It would not be a stretch to say our practices get a little heated, a little intense and a little competitive. I know that in the long run (and hopefully it is not too long of a run), battling through our numerous injuries and staying resilient will be to our advantage. With players out with injuries it is giving all our healthy players a chance to get extended minutes and build up experience for later on in the season. All of this is great, but right now all I want -- which is also another New Year's resolution of mine -- is for all my teammates to be healthy.

The last thing I have to say about injuries is that it translates into one thing: ice baths. The more minutes I play in practice and the more minutes I play in games means Coach (Tia) Jackson will give me the "Ice bath is mandatory for you today, Kris" talk. As much as I enjoy sitting in a tub filled with 45-degree water, I hate ice baths. But yeah, I'll give my trainer and coaches credit for forcing me to do it because there is no better remedy than a good 15-minute ice bath to refresh my legs.

I hope you have a wonderful start to 2011 and you try to keep your resolutions until my next blog! Stay safe and Happy New Year!

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Kristi Kingma is a junior guard for the University of Washington's Women's Basketball team. She is a Communications major at UW. She was an honorable mention for the Pac-10 All-Freshman team in 2009 and was honorable mention for the conference's All-Defensive team as a sophomore. She was ranked by ESPN HoopGurlz as the country's No. 44 prospect at Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Wash. Kingma twice was selected as the Athlete of Year by the Seattle Times.