Athletes recognized for overcoming injuries

Williamsport High School Athletic Director Sean McCann smiles as he and other representatives of the high school accept the UPMC Susquehanna Sports Medicine Champions Cup during the 2018 UPMC Susquehanna Sports Medicine Student Athlete Perseverance Award Winners and UPMC Susquehanna Sports Medicine Champions Cup awards event Friday evening at UPMC Williamsport. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent

When Lexi Baranoski injured her knee playing soccer in November 2016, she figured on a long road to recovery to make it back on the field the following season.

Working with the UPMC Sports Medicine Department, the Muncy Area High School student soon began a sometimes grueling rehabilitation process to come back from the ACL tear.

“You have to follow it (therapy),” she said.

Three days a week, she did rehabilitation sessions as well as therapy on her own.

Her parents, Matt and Heather, recalled the doubts and tears.

But as her mother said, “She was really good about the therapy because she wanted to get back to play.”

Her father gave credit to Dr. Patrick Carey, medical director, UPMC Sports Medicine, for explaining the injury and the process of rehabilitation.

Lexi is now looking forward to playing her senior year.

She was among 18 student athletes from area high schools who received Student Athlete Perseverance Awards given in recognition to those who recovered from sports injuries and returned to playing.

The first annual Sports Medicine Champions Cup Award, meanwhile, went to Williamsport Area High School. The award is based on overall athletic performance of individual schools in various sports.

Loyalsock finished second and Wellsboro third.

Mike Ludwikowski, outreach athletic training supervisor, UPMC Sports Medicine, said the Student Athlete Perseverance Awards recognize not only the students, but their parents and athletic trainers who treated their injuries.

“We thought it would be great to pick an athlete who got injured, did the rehab and persevered,” he said.

The goal of sports medicine, he noted, is to get athletes healthy and playing once again.

An athletic injury can be a real test, not only for the person, but his or her entire support network.

“You don’t plan to get hurt,” he said. “When you do, everything changes in the whole household.”

He said athletes recovering and rehabilitating from injuries demonstrate maturity in the face of adversity. They also put forth the discipline required to juggle schedules and to try and get better.

And, they find ways to stay positive.

The entire list of individual award winners and their schools are as follows:

• Alivia McDonald, Montoursville Area High School

• Alyssa Smith, North Penn Mansfield

• Austyn Carson, Central Mountain High School

• Brennen Bailey, Montgomery High School

• Brock Hepler, Loyalsock Township High School

• Brooke Lininger, Warrior Run High School

• Dalton Prough, Wellsboro Area High School

• Gabrielle Lisi, St. John Neumann Regional Academy

• Gage Sutliff, Bucktail Area High School

• Kade Heckle, Hughesville High School

• Keira McCormick, Williamson Junior-Senior High School

• Lakota Gehringer, Cowanesque

• Lexi Baranoski, Muncy Junior-Senior High School

• Logan Burkett, South Williamsport Area High School

• Noah Brown, Sullivan County High School

• Riley Hilner, Williamsport Area High School

• Taylor Thompson, North Penn Liberty

• Timmy Ward, Canton High School