When Monica Lewing steps on the floor for the RDC basketball Queens Friday evening it will be her reward for three long years of dedication and perseverance.
For the last three seasons the native of Leduc has battled a knee injury that saw her go under the knife three times.
Yet the 22-year-old never thought about walking away from the game.
“It’s been a long time, but I just couldn’t give up,” said Lewing, who was one of the Queens bright lights during her rookie season.
But just prior to the opening of the 2006-07 season she went up for a layup and tore ligaments in her right knee.
“It was partially torn and I was told that I could strengthen it and come back if I wore a brace,” she explained. “But the first 10 minutes of my first practice back (before Christmas) I jumped off my right foot for a left-handed layup and tore it the rest of the way.”
Lewing underwent surgery in January 2007 and was expected back some time the next season.
“I rehabbed all summer, but it was still bugging me and kept swelling up. I had another MRI and they discovered there was some torn meniscus and so I had arthroscopic surgery,” she explained.
She also needed arthroscopic surgery last season and while the knee still isn’t 100 per cent it’s close.
“I still take physio a couple of times a week and actually my other knee bothers me a bit, because I over-compensated for my right knee for so long,” she said. “One of the biggest things about coming back is getting used to the fast pace and getting comfortable going 100 per cent, but so far it’s all worthwhile.
“I’m not able to play the way I did in high school or the first year here, but I’m a smarter player now,” she added. “I do regret not being able to get the game experience, but I’ve been around and watching the game and learning that way.”
Queens head coach Dawn Smyth has worked with Lewing the past two seasons and appreciates what she saw.
“It definitely shows her work ethic,” said Smyth. “She never gave up and although she wasn’t on the floor, she was always asking and learning. It’s exciting for her and exciting for me to see her get a chance to come back after all the hard work we’ve done over the past two years.
“Monica is one of our leaders. She’s very familiar with the culture we’re building and she’s a big part of that.”
The Queens depth received a boost a couple of weeks ago with the addition of Rimbey Spartan grad Lauren Loyek, who played last season with Grant MacEwan Griffins.
Loyek, a six-foot post player, started this season at MacEwan, but left and registered at RDC.
“One of our weaknesses is that we’re a young team and lack experience and Lauren adds some of that. She played a year in the league with a very good team and a good coach.”
The basketball squads host Lethbridge Friday and Saturday. The women tip off at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday with the men to follow.
• Four members of the RDC soccer teams have bene selected to the South Division All-Conference teams while Kings coach Steve Fullarton was named the South Division coach of the year.
Kings outstanding striker Keegan Sheehan and defender Craig Fullarton were named to the men’s All-Conference squad while defender Samantha Vockeroth and midfielder Samantha Martin received similar honours on the women’s side.
• Sheehan, who scored all four goals in the Kings 4-0 win over Lethbridge Saturday, a win that got them into the league playoffs, was named the Moxie’s Classic Grill RDC male athlete of the week.
Hockey Queens veteran forward Karla Bourke, who was the Queens player of the game in both games against Grant MacEwan, received the top female award.
• The volleyball squads open their regular season in Lethbridge Friday and Saturday while the soccer teams play in the ACAC playoffs Friday.
The Queens take on MacEwan at Mount Royal and the Kings face Concordia at NAIT.
• The hockey Queens play an exhibition game against the Edge Academy of Calgary Thursday, 7 p.m., at the Arena.