Ashley: Wild guess -- my knee, maybe? (laughter) My recovery?
VM: Yep. How many times do you think you've been asked one thing or the other about it?
Ashley: A lot. (smiling) But it doesn't bother me.
VM: Okay, I want you to tell us the whole story from the beginning, starting with how it happened.
Ashley: One day in June we were playing pickup like we usually do. I was actually going up for a layup on a fast break and wide open. I went up, made the layup and came down on my left leg and just stepped and it just popped then.
VM: Did you know immediately what had happened?
Ashley: It didn't hurt that bad. It kind of buckled my knee. You know sometimes you buckle your knee, and you get up and you're fine, but I sat there for a second and was like, "I don't think I should go back in; it feels a little different". I got up and tried to walk off, and it buckled in, and I almost fell.
VM: It wasn't hurting that much?
Ashley: No, it didn't hurt that much at all. So I was sitting on the sideline; I wasn't actually going to call Kris (trainer Kris Mack) because I figured it would go away. I was like, "Surely I didn't tear my ACL, surely I didn't."
Then once again after we finished playing pickup, I got up and tried to walk off -- actually I tried to kind of jog off a little bit, and it buckled again, so I was like, "Maybe I should call Kris".
So I called Kris, and she came back in, and she called the doctors, and they came in, and that's when they tested it to see if it would catch, and it didn't. That's when they told me.
VM: And then you had surgery after that?
Ashley: I had surgery about ten days after that. It didn't swell very much at all.
VM: Was the only damage the torn ACL?
Ashley: Yeah. At first we didn't know if it was meniscus or anything else. They went in, and they found it was just ACL. Actually, the way it was lying, they didn't think I had torn it at first. But then they moved it around and saw that it had torn.
VM: So did they sew it together, or staple it, or replace it, or what?
Ashley: They replaced it. They took out a piece of my patella tendon. It's tendon that's right here (pointing to a spot at the bottom of her knee). And they took some bone and replaced it and sewed it back together.
VM: So that must have been late in June that you had the surgery? When were you first cleared to run?
Ashley: It was June 20th when I had the surgery. I was cleared to run right before we left for Italy.
VM: What is your status now?
Ashley: Right now I can do everything in practice except for contact. Maybe next week sometime is when I'm going to start doing contact.
VM: Will you be able to play by the start of the season?
Ashley: Yes, definitely. That's what we're aiming for. The doctor says I should be ready by the second exhibition game (Nov .10). That's our goal.
VM: How is it feeling now?
Ashley: It feels really good. There's a little pressure where they cut out my patella tendon, but it feels really good. Before practices I have to warm up fairly well.
VM: Are you doing other rehabilitation activities?
Ashley: Yes, I'm still in the training room. I'm working on balance, lateral drills. I haven't done any basketball-related drills basically for four months. So we're trying to get back into that. Recently, since practice started, I've been doing probably about an hour of things specific to rehabbing. When I lift, there are different lifts that are added on to my lifting that aren't in everybody else's.
VM: This is the first time you've been through this, isn't it?
Ashley: Oh yeah. I've never had any major injuries at all. I remember in high school I broke my finger one time and didn't even know it until it healed, So I haven't had anything. Actually I think they were kind of surprised the way I did it because my legs are so strong, so it was kind of like a freak accident, I guess. My quad didn't fire at the right time, and it just gave out.
Nicole Jules and Ashley Earley (Photo by Whitney D)