Coming back from an injury is never easy for an athlete, but when the injury is as severe as a torn ACL, the road to recovery can be a long and arduous one.
That’s exactly what West Virginia point guard James "Beetle" Bolden was faced with when he came down awkwardly during an open gym before the season started. Bolden tore the ACL and sprained the MCL in his right knee, and was resigned to spending his first year in Morgantown on the bench.
“It was kind of like open gym. It was like the very last game, so I was heartbroken. It happened in the very last game. I went up, I blocked a dunk and then I took my eyes off the ground and it just happened,” Bolden said of the injury.
And so, Bolden’s rehabilitation process began. Regaining the strength in his knee would take time and hard work, but Bolden has been attacking the rehab with a positive mind frame, and the results have followed.
“September 14 is when I had the surgery. A couple weeks after that, that’s when they noticed I was healing fast and prospering fast through the process. Everything just kind of came fast. It doesn’t seem like it’s been five months,” he said.
“I’m probably at about like 60-percent right now. I can run really fast right now, but only straight lines directly; not so much side-to-side yet. That’s what they’re working with on with me right now. I’m hopping a little bit. It kind of feels good to get back to things I usually do.”
Because of the nature of the injury and its required extensive rehab, Bolden has spent time working on getting his strength back that he normally would have spent practicing with his team. Despite that, Bolden said his teammates have made a conscious effort to not leave him by the wayside while he works his way back onto the floor.
“Trust me, it’s been a process. That’s what these guys are here for, my teammates, they keep me sane and keep me more involved with the team. They make me feel like I’m still a part of the team, basically. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s not easy at all. That’s what the whole process comes with,” he said.
Recovering from the physical aspect of a traumatic injury is just one part of the battle though. For many who experience an injury like Bolden’s, there is an element of fear and doubt about whether or not they will ever be the same after the injury. Bolden said he has overcome those thoughts by remaining positive.
“Personally, I think I’ve recovered fully from the mental aspect of it. It ain’t no point about being down about it or anything like that. That will just make the process harder for you. I just try to keep a positive vibe toward it and try to just keep moving through the process,” he said.
Just because he hasn’t been on the floor doesn’t mean this year has been a total loss for Bolden. Through watching practice and remaining engaged on the bench during games, Bolden has gained an understanding for what will be expected of him when he does return.
“I’m taking it from the advantage standpoint. I can see what (Huggins) wants from the point guard, and know what he wants from them when he comes out of the huddle. Watching practice when I’ve got the chance, I see how he wants the offense run, and even the defense part of it,” he said.